Cardinal Pell Defends Himself against Cover-up Charge

Catholic World News

July 8, 2008

Sydney, Jul. 8, 2008 ( - Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, has said that he made an "innocent error" rather than deliberately covering up evidence of sexual abuse in a case that is commanding media attention in the final days before World Youth Day.

Australia's ABC television network revealed on July 7 that Cardinal Pell had written to an alleged victim of sexual abuse, telling him that there had been no other complaints against the priest he accused, on the same day that the prelate wrote another letter acknowledging assaults by the same priest.

Cardinal Pell admitted that the letter he wrote in 2003 to Anthony Jones was "badly worded," but insisted that he had no intention to be "deceitful."

Jones had reported that he was molested in 1982 by Father Terrence Goodall. An archdiocesan investigation eventually sustained the complaint, and the priest was removed from ministry. Goodall was convicted of indecent assault in 2005.

At a July 8 press conference in Sydney, Cardinal Pell said that he had intended, in his 2003 letter to Jones, to convey the idea that there were no other allegations of "attempted aggravated sexual assault" against Goodall. He explained that he had accepted the results of the church investigation, which found clear evidence of homosexual activity involving Goodall and Jones, but he believed that Jones-- who was 28 years old at the time of the incident-- had been a consenting partner rather than a rape victim.

"There was no cover-up," Cardinal Pell insisted. He said that the archdiocese had cooperated with legal authorities in the prosecution of Father Goodall.


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