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Strong but mixed reaction follows Pell appointment
    Australian Federal Minister and Catholic layman Tony Abbott has praised the appointment of Melbourne Archbishop Dr George Pell as Archbishop of Sydney, while former Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti predicted that priests will leave the Church as the new archbishop propells it 'back to the middle ages'.
    "Archbishop Pell is a very formidable intellect as well as being a very strong and charismatic and inspirational personality and the Catholics of Sydney will soon revel in the fact that a real leader is the Archbishop," said Tony Abbott.
    Meanwhile Chris Sidoti told ABC Radio: "Already there are barely 15 to 20 per cent of Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday - there will be larger numbers who refuse to go. The church in Sydney is headed back to the middle ages. It is headed back to an era of increasing irrelevance to the daily lives of ordinary people."
    Pell himself assured listeners of ABC Radio's PM that he stands "four-square behind the Pope", while dismissing the charge that he is a conservative. He said he would not boost numbers at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras by making "inappropriate condemnations", but turn his attention instead to "the many more good families in Sydney".
    Less controversial was Dr Pell's stated intention to bring young people back to the Church. He said: "If they're offered a clear explanation of the person of Jesus, of his teaching, they're offered support and community, they're not being condemned - that's an attractive an increasingly attractive proposition to a lot of people who are a bit lost."
   
AAP/ABC News/ABC 'AM'/ABC 'PM'
   
28-Mar-01


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