With 2019 drawing to a close, The Bug begins its look back at the big events of the past year by examining the major stories about religion and church leaders we covered in the past 12 months.
George Pell, former Australian CEO of the worldwide franchising group RCC, was convicted and sentenced on child sex offences.
His appeal was disallowed and he now waits on a further appeal against that decision in the High Court of Australia.
RCC, previously trading as the Roman Catholic Church, has seen plunges in customer numbers and its public standing as a result of the Pell case, although its large asset base and property portfolio remains solid.
One of Pell’s major supporters through his trials and tribulations was former prime minister Tony Abbott, himself a former RCC trainee, who continued to protest Pell’s innocence.
He was secretly photographed during one visit possibly having Pell hear his confession.
Another public figure who vigorously supporting Pell was News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt who unilaterally declared Pell innocent and was most surprised when the Victorian Court of Appeal thought otherwise.
At Easter this year The Bug published a grainy picture (above) taken by telephoto lens showing both Abbott and Bolt making a casual visit to Pell in his Melbourne jail.
Having lost his seat of Warringah at the 18 May federal election, Tony Abbott had more time on his hands, some of which he devoted to practical support of his jailed friend George Pell.
Abbott’s efforts included taking baking lessons which enabled him to make and deliver to Pell in jail some very tasty cakes to lift his spirits.
Arguably the second-biggest story about religion covered by The Bug in 2019 was the outburst on social media by former Australian Rugby Union star Israel Folau who declared a range of “sinners” were going to hell including gays, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, and many other types of people no doubt found among his team mates over the years.
Thankfully The Bug was able to explain Folau’s comments with its story about x-ray analysis performed on the former Wallaby showed the battle between God and the Devil was the result of severe brain damage he sustained during his playing days.
The bad news was that the condition of Folau’s brain and those of several of his fellow players was so severe and advanced that their only option for future employment may be as sideline commentators during Channel 9’s coverage of NRL games.