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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Feb 21, 2020
Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.
A week after its release, Querida Amazonia—or, to be more accurate, the reaction to the papal document—remains the top news story of this week. But it shouldn’t be.
►The most important story, in my view, is the law that took effect in the Australian state of Victoria, requiring priests to break the confessional seal if they are told about abuse of children. Here is a frontal assault on religious liberty, and a grave challenge for Australian priests—who have already been told by their bishops (although they shouldn’t need to be told) that they must accept jail time rather than violate the seal. How will this story play out? Will other states pass similar laws? Will priests be subject to arrest—and unable to say anything in their own defense? Will lay Catholics mobilize against this injustice? Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane rushed to Rome this week, to discuss these questions with Vatican officials.
The Australian archbishop also indicated that he wanted to confer with Vatican officials about the situation of Cardinal George Pell, whose appeal to Australia’s highest court will be heard in a few weeks. By sometime this summer, when the court is expected to release its ruling, Cardinal Pell will be either a free man or a convicted sexual offender with no remaining appeals; either way, the Church will have to respond to his new status. ….