Archbishop addresses rumours of his Vatican posting
Melbourne's Archbishop George Pell has acknowledged that he has heard rumours that he is to be made a cardinal and offered a new job in the Vatican, but that's as far as he's prepared to go.
"There's a saying that those who know don't say, and those who say don't know," said Dr Pell, leader of Melbourne's million Catholics, in an interview with The Sunday Age.
He continued: "In the Catholic Church, we don't apply for jobs, that's true literally as well as rhetorically, so I've really got no comment, but I'm fascinated by the upsurge of rumors just at the moment."
But he did scotch one report that he was about to be appointed rector of the Propaganda Fide seminary for foreign students he once attended in Rome, saying that such a job is more suited to that status of a priest. "Archbishops don't go off to run colleges," he said emphatically.
The rumors have been sustained by the news of the Pope's intention to create 25 new cardinals by February, and of the reportedly imminent retirement of Australia's Cardinal Edward Cassidy, 76, from his senior Vatican post heading the Council for Christian Unity.
During the wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Age, he backed recent criticism by former prime minister Malcolm Fraser of the Federal Government's hardline refugee detention policy.
"I think we risk being seen as mean. I welcome the inquiry set up, and I'd hope we'd be able to develop a more humane approach," he said.
He also defended charges that the late B.A. Santamaria tried to siphon off 10% of state aid to Catholic schools to fund the National Civic Council, arguing he was proposing a consultancy arrangement 'with no impropriety with it in the slightest'.
Indicated the role of church-based Job Network agencies such as the Catholics' Centacare in having to recommend 'breaching' the poor and homeless for failing 'mutual obligation' tests was at odds with the church's traditional role. It had recently been discussed at the national bishops conference.
He also revealed that the church had received 110 applications for compensation for sexual abuse by priests since protocols were put in place in 1996, and had settled 101 of them. "The sexual abuse problem is a terrible business," Dr Pell said. "The procedures we put in place to address what was a major problem are working well and I hope and believe that the worst is behind us."