Vatican Defends Australian Cardinal against Charges of "Disregard" of Sexual Abuse

By Philip Pullella and Byron Kaye
Yahoo! News
June 2, 2015

The Vatican on Monday strongly defended Australian Cardinal George Pell against accusations by a member of Pope Francis' commission on sexual abuse that the Vatican's finance chief had little regard for victims.

Peter Saunders, one of 17 members of the commission advising the pope on how to root out sex abuse in the Church, said on Australian television on Sunday that Pell should be dismissed over allegations he failed to take action to protect children.

Pell, now charge of reforming the Vatican's economic departments, issued a statement soon after the program aired, calling Saunders's comments "false", "misleading" and "outrageous", and said he would consult legal advisers.

In a statement published by the network on his behalf, Pell said he had always taken a strong stand against child abuse. Pell has denied moving priests accused of abuse between parishes or offering one victim inducements to drop a complaint.

The comments by Saunders, one of the most outspoken members of the commission, underscored strains within the Church on how to deal with the sexual abuse crisis that has plagued it for nearly two decades.

"Cardinal Pell has always responded attentively and in detail to the questions posed by Australian authorities," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. Pell's comments should be "considered reliable and worthy of respect and attention".

Saunders, speaking on Channel Nine's 60 Minutes Australia program, said of Pell: "He is making a mockery of the papal commission (into child abuse), of the pope himself, but most of all of the victims and the survivors."








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