SYDNEY (NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA)
Sydney Morning Herald
August 20, 2020
By Harriet Alexander
A low-ranking parish priest who agreed to give evidence against an archbishop accused of concealing child sexual abuse was mysteriously summoned to the Vatican before he was due to testify and allegedly quizzed by the Pope about what he was planning to say in court.
As the priest emerged from the 2016 meeting, Cardinal George Pell was allegedly waiting outside. “Look what I have done for you,” Cardinal Pell said, and lifted his hand for the priest to kiss his ring.
According to The Altar Boys by investigative reporter Suzanne Smith, there’s no allegation Cardinal Pell intended to put pressure on Father Glen Walsh not to give evidence.
The explosive claim about the papal meeting, contained in The Altar Boys, indicates that the pressure brought to bear on priests who betray the brotherhood extends right up to the Vatican, and has prompted calls for a police investigation.
Father Walsh was a Crown witness in the case against Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson when he met with the pontiff on February 9, 2016. Archbishop Wilson was accused of failing to report to police the allegations of two former altar boys who claimed they had been abused by a priest in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese in the 1970s. At the time he was the highest-ranking Catholic ever to be charged with concealment offences.
Father Walsh later told confidants that the Pope asked him why he was involved in a court case against an archbishop, what he was planning to say in court, and who was walking with him on the journey. Father Walsh said he did not trust the interpreter and offered scant detail.
It was the pinnacle of what Father Walsh perceived as a sustained campaign by the priesthood to get him to toe the line on child sexual abuse. He was allegedly frozen out of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese after he defied the bishop to report a fellow priest for child sexual abuse in 2004 and was not welcomed back until early 2017.
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