Archdiocese denies Cardinal Pell to lead Visitation to Ireland

Cardinal Pell during a recent visit to Newman's library in Birmingham.  Image: Peter Jennings.

Cardinal Pell during a recent visit to Newman's library in Birmingham. Image: Peter Jennings.

The Archdiocese of Sidney, Australia, has issued a statement today stressing that Cardinal Pell is not going to lead a Visitation to Ireland in the wake of the recent sex abuse crisis.

The full statement follows:

The apostolic visitation of the Catholic Church in Ireland announced by Pope Benedict XVI in March will be very important. It will help the church address the mishandling of sexual abuse allegations that has occurred in some places. Hopefully it will also help to bring justice and healing to the victims.
Rumours that the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, may lead the visitation are completely unfounded and speculative.
Also reports by some in the media who have approached the Archdiocese for comment have been inaccurate, misreported and misleading.
Cardinal Pell will not lead the visitation and has never anticipated doing so. However, these rumours have led some to question his record in dealing with sexual abuse in the Church here in Australia. There are good answers to these questions.
The Church in Australia began to establish protocols for dealing with sexual abuse in 1988. Soon after becoming Archbishop of Melbourne, Cardinal Pell led the Church with a world-first in 1996 when he established an independent commission to investigate complaints of sexual abuse, supported by an independent compensation panel and an independent counselling service for victims. A short time later the national Towards Healing protocol was also established.
During his time as Archbishop of Melbourne, Cardinal Pell always followed the advice of the independent commission and permanently removed approximately 20 priests from ministry in the five years he was there.
The abuse that the independent commission has brought to light since it was established, with the help of those who have courageously brought their complaints forward, has led to compensation and support being provided to approximately 300 victims. Many priests and religious have been permanently removed from ministry and with some also being jailed. 
Since becoming Archbishop of Sydney in 2001, Cardinal Pell has continued to combat sexual abuse by clergy and to provide support and care for victims through the national Towards Healing protocol. Under Towards Healing, abusers are permanently removed from ministry and victims are encouraged to take their complaints to the police. In New South Wales, the Ombudsman has to approve the steps taken.
It is entirely appropriate that the Church's response to sexual abuse is subjected to public scrutiny. This has assisted the Church in Australia to identify mistakes and to strengthen its processes. Cardinal Pell's own role has been closely examined by the media and public throughout his time as Archbishop in two cities, and he has been actively involved, with bishops, leaders of religious orders, and experts in various areas, in improving the response of the church to sexual abuse and to victims.
Only last month the Cardinal wrote: “Sex abuse of children is a horrifying crime.”
“That Catholic priests and members of religious orders are among the worst abusers, fills all Catholics, including myself, with horror and disgust.”
Cardinal Pell's record in combating sexual abuse and bringing abusers to justice reflects his deep personal commitment to caring for victims and to eradicating this evil from the Church.
Source: Archdiocese of Sydney

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