Sydney priest speaks out against Pell appointment
The selection of the new Archbishop of Sydney was "corrupted" by a lack of consultation and by undue influence from the conservative Opus Dei group, a local priest told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Fr Les Cashen, of Forest Lodge parish, said he would write to the Apostolic Nuncio in Canberra and the secretary of state in Rome, arguing that the selection of Archbishop George Pell contravened canon law requirements that local bishops and members of the laity be consulted about appointments.
He also alleged that any names put forward by local clergy were regarded unfavourably by a Vatican sympathetic to the conservative views of Opus Dei, a powerful and conservative group devoted to the sanctification of everyday life but regarded by some as secretive and demanding.
"Those names probably when they were received in Rome were suspect because they think that Sydney needs a clean-up," Fr Cashen said.
He alleged that Archbishop Pell was favoured because he had reversed his predecessor's decision not to admit Opus Dei into the Melbourne archdiocese.
The outgoing Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Edward Clancy, also suggested last week that the Australian Church had been "misrepresented" in Rome because of the undue influence of unnamed groups.
Auxiliary Bishop Pat Power in Canberra agreed there had not been proper consultation on the Archbishop's appointment.
"I think the lack of communication was lamentable, and that always leaves it open to speculation as to who did have the influence," he said.
But, while he acknowledged that Opus Dei was a powerful influence in the Vatican, he did not believe the group was directly responsible for Archbishop Pell's appointment.
"My greater worry is that whole reputation that Australia seems to have in Rome ... that somehow we're a group of people out of control, and that we need to be brought into line, and Archbishop Pell is the one to do that."