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Archbishop Pell refutes abuse charge

Sydney's Archbishop George Pell has vehemently denied an allegation that he sexually molested a 12 year-old more than 40 years ago, saying it is "a smear of the most vindictive kind". However, he said his decision last Tuesday to take leave as Archbishop of Syndey was for the good of the Church and to preserve the dignity of the office of archbishop.

A complaint has been made to the National Committee for Professional Standards by a person who said that he was sexually molested while Archbishop Pell was a trainee priest for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The committee was established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Leaders of Religious Institutes to deal with allegations of sexual abuse in the Church.

A statement from the committee yesterday said the complainant was advised and encouraged to report the matter to the police but at that stage had declined to do so. The complaint would be dealt with substantially in accordance with the procedures laid down by Towards Healing, the statement said. Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who is co-chairman of the National Committe for Professional Standards with Marist Brother Michael Hill, has set up an independent inquiry to investigate the allegations.

Alex Southwell QC, an eminent retired judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, has been retained to adjudicate on the complaint and to report to the committee.Archbishop Pell said the alleged events never happened.

"The allegations against me are lies and I deny them totally and utterly. I will, of course, co-operate with this independent inquiry in every way possible - frankly, openly and unreservedly.

"I welcome the inquiry and a chance to clear my name, recognising that I am not above civil and Church law.

"I have taken a leading role in condmening and exposing sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Australia. To allege that I am now personally implicated in this evil is a smear of the most vindictive kind."

Catholic Leader - Breaking News

Retired judge to inquire into complaint against Archbishop George Pell (Archdiocese of Adelaide Media Release)
Priest probed over abuse claim (News24 South Africa-Reuters)
PM supports Pell (News Interactive Australia-AAP)
Australian Catholic Leader On Leave (Guardian-AP)
Head of Australian Catholics investigated over paedophilia (Ananova)
Australian Catholic Leader on Leave (Miami Herald-AP)
Pell denies sex abuse allegation (News Interactive Australia-AAP)
Catholic Church in fresh abuse row (BBC)
Sydney Archbishop Faces Inquiry over Abuse Claim (New York Times-Reuters)
Pell accused of sexual abuse (West Australian)
Pell stands aside (Courier-Mail)
Pell denies molesting boy (The Australian)
Child sex abuse claim (The Advertiser)
Church leaders will have final say (The Advertiser)
Pell steps aside over child-sex claims (Herald-Sun)
Boy sex count: Pell accused (Daily Telegraph)
Archbishop George Pell denies sex abuse allegations (Canberra Times-AAP)
Statement by Dr. George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
Archbishop denies child-sex allegations (SMH)
xavier o'byrne (Independent Media Centre)
Dr Pell stands down pending paedophilia investigation (ABC Radio 'PM') | audio
Archbishop Pell centre of sex abuse allegations (ABC-TV 7.30 Report - Transcript of interview with Monsignor David Cappo, former executive director of the National Committee for Professional Standards)
Pell takes leave as sex abuse inquiry announced (ABC)
Statement From the Archbishop Denis Hart - Catholic Archdiocese Of Melbourne
Archbishop Pell Denies Sex-Abuse Charge, Welcomes Investigation (Catholic World News)
Australian Catholic Leader on Leave (Washington Post-AP)
Let's pray for Archbishop Pell (CathNews Discussion Board)
Church abuse crisis spreads to Australia (MSNBC-AP)
Australia's top Catholic takes leave amid abuse investigation (Nando Times-AP)

21 Aug 2002