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Pell reaffirms controversial comparison

Sydney's Archbishop George Pell told a media conference in Sydney on Friday that he stands by his reported statement to youth in Toronto that abortion is a greater evil than sex abuse.

Pell reaffirmed on Friday his view that abortion is one of the "worst" evils because it involves the destruction of innocent human life.

"I don't back off the statements," the Sydney Catholic archbishop told the Sydney Morning Herald after disembarking from an early morning Canadian Airlines flight.

"I feel a great sympathy for women who are pushed into abortion. I feel a great sympathy of course for the destruction of innocent life, and that is one of worst - it is the worst - of evils."

Dr Pell has come under increasing criticism since his assertion at a World Youth Day event that abortion was a "worse moral scandal" than sex abuse perpetrated against young people by Catholic clergy.

He said his original statement had been quoted out of context because The Globe and Mail newspaper had not included an earlier condemnation of sex abuse in the church.

Pell received a standing ovation following the catechesis session that included the comments.

"I ... mentioned that the church is being attacked for [sex abuse] sometimes by elements that are a bit anti-Christian ... I said there are other scandals, such as abortion which are under-reported and because abortion destroys innocent life you could say it's a worse scandal."

The Herald asked Dr Pell what he had to say to those who have lost offspring to suicide, as a result of being sexually abused by Catholic clergy.

"Well ... there's not too many of those," he said. "But that's ... terrible, that adds another dimension of evil to sex abuse."

Federal Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, who called on the Sydney Archdiocese earlier this week to clarify Dr Pell's comments made in Canada, criticised Dr Pell's apparent "hierarchy of evil".

"Sexual abuse of children is one of the most repugnant and serious of crimes which can never be condoned, excused or reduced in severity by comparison to some other act," he said.

Late Friday, Dr Pell issued a press release condemning sex abuse. He said he had in recent months given three media conferences addressing the issue and worked for years to combat its evil.

Statement by Dr George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney

Crean calls for clarification of Pell remarks (31/7/02)
Pell calls abortion a greater crime than sex abuse (29/7/02)


5 Aug 2002