The Sydney Morning Herald
JACQUELINE MALEY RELIGION
IRISH victims of Catholic sex abuse are trying to block any visit by Cardinal George Pell intended to help end paedophilia cover-ups within the clergy there.
A group in Ireland called Child Aware, headed by Hanora Brennan, has written to every member of the Irish lower house, or Dail, to protest against Cardinal Pell having any role in the plan.
Ms Brennan has also requested a meeting with Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, to argue that Cardinal Pell, Sydney’s Archbishop and Australia’s most senior Catholic clergyman, should not be allowed to visit on behalf of the Vatican.
This week separate rumours have swirled on Catholic blogs and in an Italian newspaper that he has been appointed to a Vatican position as head of the Congregation for Bishops, the committee that appoints bishops. The post would start in August.
A spokeswoman for Cardinal Pell’s office would not comment on reports of either position.
Ms Brennan told the Herald: ”We are trying to have this man stopped coming to Ireland to check whether all the dioceses in this country should be investigated.
”Most of the denizens hereabouts would be interested in the whole country being investigated, but not by this man. There are too many questions that need to be answered.”
Ms Brennan believes Cardinal Pell’s handling of clerical sexual abuse in Australia has been inadequate. She said he had ”accompanied paedophiles to court”.
In 1993, Cardinal Pell gave ”moral support” to former priest Gerald Ridsdale at a Melbourne court appearance on paedophile charges. He was convicted of numerous child sex offences and remains in jail. Cardinal Pell has denied all knowledge of Ridsdale’s activities before his conviction.
In 1996, when he was archbishop of Melbourne, Cardinal Pell created a protocol to investigate abuse complaints..
The Irish church is reeling from a damning report on clerical cover-ups of sex abuse within the archdiocese of Dublin. The government-commissioned report concluded the main concerns of the archdiocese were ”the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets”.
The Pope then announced he would hold an ”apostolic visitation” of certain dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations within Ireland.
The Belfast Telegraph said: ”Vatican insiders are tipping a tough Australian prelate to head a probe into the Irish church.”