Archdiocese defends Cardinal Pell against ‘defamatory’ report

The archdiocese of Sydney has denounced as “utterly false and seriously defamatory” a news service report that claimed Cardinal George Pell had no chance of being elected pope because he was “tainted by sex abuse scandals”.

The archdiocese said the report by Fairfax media misrepresented the outcome of a 2002 inquiry into an allegation against the cardinal and was a “smear of the most vindictive kind”.

The report suggested that the 2002 investigation into sex-abuse charges, conducted by a retired Victorian Supreme Court judge, had cast suspicions on the cardinal’s role.

In fact, the inquiry report from Judge A. J. Southwell had “completely exonerated Cardinal Pell of allegations made against him”, the archdiocese said.

Judge Southwell wrote: “I find I am not satisfied that the complaint has been established.”

The article, by Melbourne journalist Barney Zwartz, has now been removed from Fairfax websites. It appeared while Cardinal Pell was in Rome to take part in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

It quoted commentator Paul Collins, a former priest, 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 the 2002 inquiry into allegations against the Sydney archbishop.

The statement by the archdiocese pointed out that a previous article by Mr Zwartz about Cardinal Pell said “an independent investigation by a retired non-Catholic judge cleared him” of the allegations against him.

“Inexplicably, this has been omitted from Mr Zwartz’s latest article,” the statement said.

The archdiocese also said that 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”.



The Australian

Image: Sydney Morning Herald

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