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Archbishops endorse Cardinal Pell




On Monday, June 1, Archbishop Denis Hart issued a statement about Cardinal George Pell, which he subsequently spoke to in interviews. We endorse those comments.

We know Cardinal Pell well from working with him over many years in different capacities. He is a man of integrity who is committed to the truth and to helping others, particularly those who have been hurt or who are struggling. His style can be robust and direct; he does not wear his heart on his sleeve. But underneath he has a big heart for people.

Cardinal Pell was one of the first bishops in the world to put in place a comprehensive Church response to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and to provide survivors with redress and counselling. He has responded to criticisms that have been made of his handling of these matters over the years, acknowledged mistakes frankly, and apologised for them.

We appreciate the Cardinal's strong and unfailing support for the important work of the Royal Commission and his constant readiness to assist the Royal Commission whenever he is asked to do so.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney

Archbishop Julian Porteous, Archbishop of Hobart

Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn

Bishop Peter Comensoli, Bishop of Broken Bay

Bishop Terence Brady, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney


31 May 2015

Cardinal Pell has not seen the material that 60 Minutes is planning to broadcast this evening.

The Cardinal has not met and has not been approached by Mr Saunders.

Cardinal Pell knows of the important work Mr Saunders has done as a survivor of abuse to assist victims, including the establishment of a victims survivors group in the United Kingdom and more recently serving as member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors established by the Holy Father to develop policy to achieve this.

While members are of course entitled to their views and opinions, the recently approved Statutes of the Commission make it clear that the Commission's role does not include commenting on individual cases, nor does the Commission have the capacity to investigate individual cases.

From the promotional material issued by 60 Minutes it seems clear Mr Saunders is not well informed about the claims made against Cardinal Pell in the Ballarat hearings of the Royal Commission and the fact that no new material emerged during recent hearings. Many of the issues were addressed in the final report of the 2013 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry where there are no adverse findings against Cardinal Pell. These old and repeated allegations have been addressed many times by the Cardinal since 2002.

As was pointed out in a recent statement by the Cardinal, he has never condoned or protected offenders, has never condoned or participated in moving known offenders and did not at any time attempt to bribe David Ridsdale, whose story has varied many times over the years.

It is not clear whether Mr Saunders is aware of the Cardinal's statements or has reviewed the extensive material available from previous Inquiries and appearances at the Royal Commission. It is also not clear if Mr Saunders is aware Cardinal Pell established within 100 days of being appointed as an Archbishop, an independent scheme to support victims. While there was and is always room for improvement, the Melbourne Response had the explicit support of the Victorian Police and other civil authorities and was at the time warmly welcomed by victim support groups.

The Cardinal has repeated many times his deepest sympathy for the victims of abuse and their families. He has made it clear on several occasions he supports the work of the Royal Commission, where he has already appeared twice, and remains willing to assist in its work.


31 May 2015, 10.45pm

Cardinal Pell has been informed of the contents of the 60 Minutes program this evening. The false and misleading claims made against His Eminence are outrageous. From his earliest actions as an Archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated. Cardinal Pell has never met Mr Saunders, who seems to have formed his strong opinions without ever having spoken to His Eminence. In light of all of the available material, including evidence from the Cardinal under oath, there is no excuse for broadcasting incorrect and prejudicial material. In the circumstances, the Cardinal is left no alternative but to consult with his legal advisers.