Pell calls abortion a greater crime than sex abuse
Sydney's Archbishop George Pell told pilgrims at World Youth Day in Toronto "abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people".
During a catechesis session before a group of 500 young people, Pell was asked by a youth minister from Kentucky what Catholics should say when asked about the sex abuse crisis in the US Catholic church.
When the youth minister sought clarification, the archbishop explained that abortion "is always a destruction of human life".
Dr Pell then insisted his comments were not designed to downplay sexual abuse; he was merely trying to point out that sex abuse by Catholic clergy had attracted attention to the detriment of other issues.
Archbishop Pell stressed that Christ promises punishment for those who stray from the church's teachings on premarital sex, abortion and euthanasia -- as well as on social justice and looking after the poor.
The archbishop received a standing ovation from his audience, but was strongly criticised by sex abuse victims rights groups. The Sydney Morning Herald quotes child protection advocate Hetty Johnston's assessment of the speech as "ghastly, insensitive and appalling".
Catholic demonstrators target abortion clinic
Sex Abuse Victims Critical of Pope
SMH/Toronto Globe & Mail
29 Jul 2002