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Pell explains no reply to lesbian cousin

Cardinal George Pell has told The Bulletin magazine that he failed to reply to letters seeking acceptance from his lesbian second cousin Monica Hingston because he felt cornered and wanted to avoid an argument.

"I thought I had nowhere to go," he said. "I thought the letter was crafted so I had nowhere to go."

Ms Hingston, a 63 year old former nun, failed to receive a reply from the cardinal after she wrote to him expressing feelings of hurt over the fact the Vatican considers her a "seriously depraved person" because she has lived with a lesbian partner for 19 years. After receiving no response to the letter sent a second time, she handed the text to the Sydney Morning Herald. Publication led to widespread public discussion, and celebrity status within the gay community.

Cardinal Pell told interviewer Jennifer Byrne that the reason for his lack of response - apart from inertia - was that: "I couldn't think of anything I might say that could placate her or make the situation better. Sometimes, rather than have an argument, it's better to say nothing, and I didn't want an argument."

Ms Hingston's celebrity status was confirmed with yesterday's announcement that she and partner Peg Moran will lead this Saturday's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade down Sydney's Oxford Street.

She said she decided after "some hesitation" to join the festival, which she considered a "political statement".

"We want the church and the state authorities to listen to us ... to hear what we're saying about our second-class citizenship," Ms Hingston said in a statement.

The publicity surrounding Ms Hingston is considered to provide fresh political impetus to the newly resurrected Mardi Gras, which began as a gay rights demonstration in 1978.

Thou shalt not (The Bulletin 3/3/04)
Pell cousin to lead Mardi Gras (The Australian 4/3/04)

Dear George, are we depraved? (text of letter as published in The Age)
Cardinal Pell's cousin to lead Mardi Gras (The Age 4/3/04)
Pell's lesbian cousin in Mardi Gras (The Age 4/3/04)
Pell's gay cousin out up front (Sydney Morning Herald 4/3/04)
Cardinal's gay cousin to lead mardi gras (AFP/ 3/3/04)
Cardinal's cousin, former nun, takes gay stance (CathNews 12/2/04)
'Look me in the eye and tell me' (National Catholic Reporter 30/1/04)
Cry from the heart by a cardinal's cousin (Sydney Morning Herald 12/1/04)
Archdiocese of Sydney | Cardinal George Pell
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2004

4 Mar 2004