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Cathedral Dean calls Pell cover-up claims 'outrageous'

The congregation gathered at Sydney's St Marys Cathedral for mass yesterday was told the cover-up claims made against Archbishop George Pell were "outrageous".

Monsignor Tony Doherty, who led the service on behalf of an absent Archbishop Pell, also asked those in attendance to pray for the church leader. Monsignor Doherty said it would be a challenge to ``bring some order to the chaos'' surrounding the allegations aired last night.

At the conclusion of the service, he told The Daily Telegraph he had also asked the congregation to pray for the ``journalists and communicators who have the exacting task of bringing truth and justice to the community''.

``That's the challenge to all of us. It's been a chaotic week and the media have brought to bear upon what I believe to be quite outrageous claims against the Archbishop,'' he said.

The paper said all of those spoken to, out of the hundreds who attended yesterday morning's mass were staunch in their support of Archbishop Pell.

``It seems to me the Archbishop has shown great leadership on this [sex abuse] issue,'' Francis Young, of Summer Hill, said. ``Archbishop Pell has got the respect of a lot of Australians, not just Catholics.'' Regular church goer John McCarthy was moved by Father Doherty's address.

``He referred to the fact there had been statements made about the Archbishop, that he had been very strongly attacked in the media and that he had completely rejected the accusations,'' he said. ``He said many Catholics had offered their support and their prayers to the archbishop.''

One young member of the congregation spoke of the 60 Minutes program by using a Big Brother analogy.

``The double evictions tonight should be Channel Nine evicting Richard Carleton and the people of Australia evicting 60 Minutes,'' he said.

Daily Telegraph (requires payment)

3 Jun 2002