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Robinson answers Pell delay complaint

The bishop implicated in the church's failure to inform Sydney Archbishop George Pell of allegations of sex abuse against him has spoken out.

Sydney's auxiliary bishop, Geoffrey Robinson, said he was following the church's sex abuse protocol, Towards Healing, in not immediately informing Dr Pell of the serious allegations. To have done so may have interfered with possible police investigations of the case, he said.

"This is the process I followed," he said. "I wanted [the complainant] to go to the police because I knew whatever [the church] did, we'd be criticised ... there would be claims the church tried to cover up the story or manipulate the findings of the inquiry."

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's National Committee for Professional Standards, of which Bishop Robinson is co-chairman, was unable to move ahead with any inquiry - or inform the accused - until all efforts to persuade the complainant to go to the police had been exhausted, he said.

But Bishop Robinson had not received the complainant's written confirmation that he wished the church, and not the police, to handle the complaint until 1 August, seven weeks after he first reported the allegations to the church.

On Monday, retired judge Alec Southwell ruled that the complainant's allegations - that Dr Pell sexually molested him at a Victorian altar boys' camp in the early 1960s - could not be established.

At a media conference on Monday afternoon, Dr Pell said he was exonerated but went on to criticise the two-month delay by the committee and its Towards Healing facilitators in informing him of the allegations.

Sydney Morning Herald

The leader of the Catholic church in Ireland is facing growing pressure to resign this weekend - and has been heckled at a mass in Dublin.

Cardinal Desmond Connell was jeered at Dublin's Pro-Cathedral last night as he repeated an earlier apology over his "failure to deal effectively" with priests who abused children.

The Cardinal repeated the statement while celebrating a mass to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II.

A spokesman for Cardinal Connell confirmed there were calls of "too late" from worshippers at the 6:00 pm mass.

The Cardinal has faced calls to resign after state-backed Irish broadcaster RTE screened a television programme which reported that the Dublin Archdiocese faced 450 legal actions as a result of claims of clerical sex abuse.

Prime Time, broadcast on Thursday night, detailed accounts of cases of abuse by eight priests of which it said at least six bishops became aware.


American Catholics reacted with anger, elation and confusion following the Vatican denial of legal recognition to the sexual abuse norms adopted by the US bishops at Dallas in June.

Citing "confusion and ambiguity" in the US bishops' document and conflicts between its proposed norms and those of the universal church, the Vatican said on Friday that the Dallas document will require more work.

Rome's response came in the form of a one-page letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory (pictured), president of the US bishops' conference, signed by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Congregation for Bishops.

The letter proposed the creation of a mixed commission between the Vatican and the US bishops to resolve differences. Gregory swiftly accepted the offer in a one-paragraph reply.

In a press conference at the North American College, Gregory described the work to be done as "modification, not recasting," and said he hoped the results will be ready for the fall meeting of the US bishops in Washington next month.

Early reaction suggested that activists for victims would be angered by the Vatican reaction, while priests' groups are more favourable.

National Catholic Reporter


Many US priests aren't happy with the way their bishops have handled the church's sex abuse crisis.

A nationwide poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times indicates 65% of priests feel bishops have done a "fair" to "poor" job disciplining those who cover up for sexual abuse. The poll surveyed more than 1800 priests and has an error margin of plus or minus three%age points.

Many priests also criticised the bishops for dragging their feet when dealing with the crisis. They say bishops worsened the problem by adopting a "zero tolerance" policy that they claim denies the rights of the accused to due process.

But while many found fault with the bishops' policy, 75% said the plan did a "good" to "excellent" job of protecting minors. One priest says the church is probably the safest place for a child right now.


US Priests Cheered by Vatican Decision (Zenit)
Official Jesuit journal offers analysis on pedophilia (Catholic World News)
Vatican calls for joint commission to revise bishops' sex abuse norms (Catholic News Service)
Vatican to test if trainee priests are gay (Sunday Herald, Edinburgh)
Bishop Gregory Remarks on Mixed Commission on Sex Abuse Norms (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
National Review Board Issues Statement on Mixed Commission (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Pell criticises Towards Healing notification delay (17/10/02)

21 Oct 2002