Bad day for Pope Francis: Sexual-assault charges against Cardinal Pell fuel media firestorm


Terry Mattingly

This answers the question that, behind the scenes, some Catholic church insiders have been asking in recent years.

That question: What will it take to get tough-as-nails, straightforward coverage of a news story closely linked to Pope Francis?

Clearly, the historic criminal sexual-assault charges against Cardinal George Pell of Australia is such a story. As the Vatican’s “financial czar,” Pell is one of the most powerful men in the Catholic hierarchy. Some rank him No. 2 in terms of clout, a notch behind the pope. He is also a member the pope’s nine-member special advisory council.

The announcement was made on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul – a highly symbolic day at the Vatican. Did that make it into many news reports? Not that I saw.

However, there are strong news stories everywhere. However, the strong, blunt nature of the coverage – with quotes from Pell defenders and critics – can be seen in a lengthy Associated Press report that will be seen in thousands of daily newspapers around the world.

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