Pell denies Australian society is racist
Australia has pockets of racism but overall it is not racist, and any racism is criminal, "idiotic" and borne of ignorance, according to Cardinal George Pell.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that he said the race riot in Cronulla and retaliatory attacks elsewhere were "blemishes" on Australia's multicultural society.
But Cardinal Pell backed the assertions of the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Premier, Morris Iemma, that racism is not inherent in the Australian character. He ascribed the outbreak of violence largely to a criminal minority beyond the influence of religious leaders.
This followed his condemnation last week as an act of "religious intolerance" an attack on a carols night at St Josephs the Worker Primary School in South Auburn in which gunshots were fired and parents and children were abused by young men described as of Middle Eastern appearance.
Meeting ethnic media journalists yesterday, Dr Pell said there had been "one or two" other minor incidents involving church property that had not been publicly reported, and security had been stepped up in each case.
Dr Pell said he took heart from a Herald poll finding yesterday that two thirds of respondents believed Australians to be fundamentally racist. A truly racist society would never admit to being racist.
"A deeply racist society would never even allow the question to be asked and the answer to be published.
Dr Pell joined ethnic leaders including Joseph Assaf, a Lebanese Christian and chairman of the company Ethnic Communications, who warned that had Jesus Christ walked Cronulla beach on December 11 he would have been lynched for the sole crime of being of "Middle Eastern appearance".
Riot and attacks a blemish, says Pell (Sydney Morning Herald 21/12/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Sydney
Parent produces gun at Sydney school (CathNEws 16/12/05)
Sydney church attacks spark fears (CathNews 15/12/05)
Pell tells race gangs that Christmas is sacred (CathNews 14/12/05)
Maronite bishop denounces Sydney violence (CathNews 14/12/05)
Pell calls race mob action a disgrace (CathNews 13/12/05)
Riots in France showed youths' frustration, pope says (Catholic News Service 19/12/05)
PM admits racists … but not racism (The Age 21/12/05)
Howard admits racial tension inflamed unrest (The Australian 21/12/05)
21 Dec 2005