Cardinal George Pell has labelled an article about him in the Fairfax media on Monday as a “smear of the most vindictive kind”. A statement released by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney on Monday says the article misrepresents the outcome of a 2002 inquiry into an allegation against Cardinal Pell.
The inquiry, headed by independent commissioner Alex Southwell QC, cleared Dr Pell of allegations he molested a boy during a camp at Phillip Island, in Victoria, in 1961. The church says the article said Dr Pell was tainted by sex abuse scandals and long dogged by allegations of sexual abuse against him. “These statements are utterly false and seriously defamatory,” the church said in a statement.
“They have no basis in fact and deliberately misrepresent the outcome of a 2002 inquiry by a retired Victorian Supreme Court judge which completely exonerated Cardinal Pell of allegations made against him.”
The article also quoted Australian commentator Paul Collins as saying Cardinal Pell had “no chance” of being elected Pope after progressive Catholics lobbied overseas journalists and voting cardinals to make sure they were aware of a 2002 inquiry into allegations against the Sydney archbishop.
Cardinal Pell is in Rome to take part in the conclave that will elect a new Pope. He was last week named at Number Five on a so-called dirty dozen list, compiled by the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. The diocese’s statement said Cardinal Pell “has worked hard to eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from the Church and to show his deep compassion for victims and survivors of sexual abuse not just by words but also by actions.” “Instead of presenting these facts and the outcome of the Southwell Inquiry fairly as it should, the Fairfax press has opted to publish a smear of the most vindictive kind.”