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Critics complain about 'closed door' Pell inquiry

The inquiry into sexual abuse allegations against Sydney Archbishop George Pell was criticised yesterday as being overly secretive.

The internal Catholic Church inquiry opened yesterday at a secret Melbourne location, and could run for a week.

Chief executive of Australians Against Child Abuse Joe Tucci attacked the closed-door approach.

"I appreciate it is important to protect the complainant, but the community has a right to understand how decisions are made," Mr Tucci said.

The church's National Committee for Professional Standards instigated the inquiry after allegations were published on a website that in the early 1960s, as a trainee priest, Dr Pell sexually abused a 12-year-old altar boy at a Phillip Island holiday camp.



The German Catholic bishops' conference has unanimously adopted directives on the problem of sexual abuse involving priests.

The directives, described as "a common procedure for all dioceses," reflect the bishops' conviction that they will make possible "greater objectivity and transparency in each particular case." The country's 68 bishops believe that the directives will help to "regain confidence and credibility."

Approval of the directives came at the autumn plenary assembly of the bishops' conference, which ended onn Thursday.

"Every case is a scandal," Cardinal Karl Lehmann (pictured), president of the conference, stressed during a press conference Friday. He added, however, that the problem in Germany has not been as widespread as in the United States.



In a remarkable show of support, parishioners in Liverpool in the UK have defended a priest convicted of sexual assault, protesting at his "vilification at the hands of the press".

Fr Anthony McCaffrey, 41, of St Andrew's church, Hunts Cross, Liverpool, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to sexually assaulting a 19-year old-man while he slept.

The jury at Liverpool crown court returned an 11-1 majority verdict on the priest, who resigned as the chancellor of Liverpool archdiocese on his conviction.

Many parishioners at St Andrew's have written to local papers protesting at "sensational" coverage and insisting on their priest's innocence. A decision by the Liverpool Daily Post to print a photo of him on conviction caused much outrage, as did the description of a man "known for his love of designer clothing, including Versace".

On Thursday, the paper devoted a whole page to the letters and a response by a senior features writer, Peter Elson, defending the coverage. He emphasised that the conviction "was not because of the Daily Post's reports, but decided by the jury on the basis of DNA evidence".

The Guardian

Inquiry into archbishop abuse claims (BBC)
Pell sex abuse hearing to take place today (30/9/02)
Day of truth dawns for Pell and accuser (The Age)
Pell knew 'abused' boys (27/9/02)
I knew the altar boys, says Pell (The Age)
Family unaware of Pell abuse claim (24/9/02)
Pell accuser stands by his claim (10/9/02)
Pell defence swaps QCs (The Age)
Legal lifeline for Pell accuser (AAP)
Pell's accuser weighs up his options (9/9/02)
Terms of Reference Releases for Pell Enquiry (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Terms of Reference - The Pell Enquiry (comment from lawyer Geoff Cahill)
Dr Pell steps aside while allegations are investigated (Catholic Weekly 1/9/02)

31 Oct 2002