August 21, 2002
Archbishop resigns after sexual abuse allegations

From today's Irish Independent:

THE ultra-conservative Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, was forced to resign yesterday following sensational allegations that he molested a 12-year-old boy when he was a trainee priest 40 years ago.

Dr Pell, who sparked controversy last month when he asserted that abortion was worse than sexual abuse by priests, said he was standing down temporarily while the claims were investigated. He denied the allegations "totally and utterly", and said he was the victim of a vindictive smear campaign.

A retired Supreme Court judge, Alec Southwell, was appointed yesterday to conduct an independent investigation into claims that Dr Pell abused the boy when he was a seminarian in the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 1961.

The Catholic Church in Australia, as in Ireland and America, has been convulsed by claims of widespread sex abuse by clergy.

Dr Pell, an unbending opponent of gay clergy and a harsh critic of Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, said he was stepping down in order to preserve the dignity of the Church.

"I will of course cooperate with this independent inquiry in every way possible - frankly, openly and unreservedly," he said in a statement read to a hastily convened press conference.

"To allege that I am personally implicated in this evil is a smear of the most vindictive kind. The alleged events never happened, I repeat emphatically that the allegations are false."

Posted by Donnacha at August 21, 2002 03:55 AM
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