Statement on Divine Mercy Supportive Care

Denver Catholic Staff

The following is a statement by the Archdiocese of Denver on Divine Mercy Supportive Care:

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Since 2014, many of you have learned about and been supportive of Divine Mercy Supportive Care’s work to bring faith-filled, professional hospice care to those approaching the end of their life. The archdiocese is sincerely grateful to Deacon Alan Rastrelli, M.D., and the many staff members who dedicated themselves to providing authentic Catholic care until he left in February 2017.

Around the same time, the archdiocese developed concerns about Divine Mercy Supportive Care’s business practices and Catholic identity and attempted to engage in dialogue with its leadership. Unfortunately, these attempts over several months were unsuccessful and led to the archdiocese withdrawing its ongoing support from Divine Mercy Supportive Care, including removing it from the Official Catholic Directory.

Since the decision to withdraw the archdiocese’s support, Divine Mercy Supportive Care has been acquired and is now under new management. It has been rebranded as Divine Hospice & Palliative Care, and the archdiocese is discussing with the new owners the extent to which it intends to follow Catholic standards for end-of-life care.  For those in need of end-of-life care, please consider the resources listed below.

End of Life Resources

Counseling
The organizations listed below offer counseling for those struggling with the issues raised by terminal illness, such as a loss of autonomy, a perceived decrease in the quality of life, coping with grief and loss, and the impact of illness on family members.

• Sacred Heart Counseling Services is a ministry of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver and has multiple locations across northern Colorado.

• St. Raphael Counseling is a Catholic apostolate with offices in Denver, Littleton and Louisville.

End of Life Care

• Porter Hospice & St. Anthony Hospice serve the Denver Metro area.

• Collier Hospice Center, Good Samaritan Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital all provide hospice and palliative care.

• Dominican Home Health Agency provides medical equipment and in-home nursing visits to the poor, sick elderly.

COMING UP: A last chance for Australian justice

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My late parents loved Cardinal George Pell, whom they knew for decades. So I found it a happy coincidence that, on November 12 (which would have been my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary), a two-judge panel of Australia’s High Court referred to the entire Court the cardinal’s request for “special leave” to appeal his incomprehensible conviction on charges of “historic sexual abuse,” and the even-more-incomprehensible denial of his appeal against that manifestly unsafe verdict.

Thus in 2020 the highest judicial authority in Australia will review the Pell case, which gives the High Court the opportunity to reverse a gross injustice and acquit the cardinal of a hideous crime: a “crime” that Pell insists never happened; a “crime” for which not a shred of corroborating evidence has yet been produced; a “crime” that simply could not have happened in the circumstances and under the conditions it was alleged to have been committed.

Since Cardinal Pell’s original appeal was denied in August by two of three judges on an appellate panel in the State of Victoria, the majority decision to uphold Pell’s conviction has come under withering criticism for relying primarily on the credibility of the alleged victim. As the judge who voted to sustain the cardinal’s appeal pointed out (in a dissent that one distinguished Australian attorney described as the most important legal document in that country’s history), witness credibility – a thoroughly subjective judgment-call – is a very shaky standard by which to find someone guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It has also been noted by fair-minded people that the dissenting judge, Mark Weinberg, is the most respected criminal jurist in Australia, while his two colleagues on the appellate panel had little or no criminal law experience. Weinberg’s lengthy and devastating critique of his two colleagues’ shallow arguments seemed intended to signal the High Court that something was seriously awry here and that the reputation of Australian justice – as well as the fate of an innocent man – was at stake.

Other recent straws in the wind Down Under have given hope to the cardinal’s supporters that justice may yet be done in his case.

Andrew Bolt, a television journalist with a nationwide audience, walked himself through the alleged series of events at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, within the timeframe in which they were supposed to have occurred, and concluded that the prosecution’s case, and the decisions by both the convicting jury and the majority of the appeal panel, simply made no sense. What was supposed to have happened could not have happened how it did and when it did.

Australians willing to ignore the vicious anti-Pell polemics that have fouled their country’s public life for years also heard from two former workers at the cathedral, who stated categorically that what was alleged to have happened could not have happened how it did and when it did, because they were a few yards away from Cardinal Pell at the precise time he was alleged to have abused two choirboys.

Then there was Anthony Charles Smith, a veteran criminal attorney (and not a Catholic), who wrote in Annals Australasia that the Pell verdict and the denial of his appeal “curdles my stomach.” How, he asked, could a guilty verdict be rendered on “evidence….so weak and bordering on the preposterous?” The only plausible answer, he suggested, was that Pell’s “guilt” was assumed by many, thanks to “an avalanche of adverse publicity” ginned up by “a mob baying for Pell’s blood” and influencing “a media [that] should always be skeptical.”

Even more strikingly, the left-leaning Saturday Paper, no friend of Cardinal Pell or the Catholic Church, published an article in which Russell Marks – a one-time research assistant on an anti-Pell book – argued that the two judges on the appellate panel who voted to uphold the cardinal’s conviction “effectively allowed no possible defense for Pell: there was nothing his lawyers could have said or done, because the judges appeared to argue it was enough to simply believe the complainant on the basis of his performance under cross examination.”

The Australian criminal justice system has stumbled or failed at every stage of this case. The High Court of Australia can break that losing streak, free an innocent man, and restore the reputation of Australian justice in the world. Whatever the subsequent fallout from the rabid Pell-haters, friends of justice must hope that that is what happens when the High Court hears the cardinal’s case – Australia’s Dreyfus Case – next year.

Photo: CON CHRONIS/AFP/Getty Images