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Pell admits cover-up

31 May 2013

AP

Cover-up: Cardinal George Pell arrives for a meeting at the Vatican, in March of this year 

Cover-up: Cardinal George Pell arrives for a meeting at the Vatican, in March of this year 

THE Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney and former Archbishop of Melbourne, Cardinal George Pell, has acknowledged that complaints of child sexual abuse had been covered up to protect the RC Church's name and finances.

Appearing before the Victorian Parliament's inquiry into institutional handling of child sexual abuse ( News, 24 May), Cardinal Pell said that fear of scandal was one reason for the cover-up. The "primary motivation" would have been "to respect the reputation of the [RC] Church", he said; earlier church leaders had not known "what a horrendous widespread mess we were sitting on". But he denied that a "culture of abuse" had existed within the Church.

Strongly denying any personal involvement in the cover-up, Cardinal Pell said that he was "fully apologetic and absolutely sorry" for the abuse by clergy. He blamed a predecessor, the late Archbishop Sir Frank Little, for the cover-up.

The inquiry heard that, in 1993, Little had arranged the removal from a parish of one paedophile priest - later sentenced five times for the abuse of children - by making him a "pastor emeritus" on the grounds of illness, and thanking him for his "good deeds". This action was "unchristlike", Cardinal Pell agreed.

On becoming Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, Cardinal Pell established the "Melbourne Re- sponse", the diocese's first formal process for dealing with abuse. It remains separate from the national RC "Towards Healing" process, and has been criticised by victims' groups, who say that it was designed to protect the Church and limit compensation payments.

Cardinal Pell was the last person to appear before the inquiry, which is due to report by the end of September.

 

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