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Cardinal Pell defends Vatican response to Australian sex-abuse commission

August 21, 2014

Cardinal George Pell has defended the Vatican’s decision to withhold some internal Church records requested by an Australian royal commission investigating sex-abuse complaints.

The Australian prelate, who now serves as prefect of the Secertariat for the Economy, reminded the commission that the Vatican had already furnished 5,000 pages of documentation. In July the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, declined to comply with another request for records regarding each case of a priest accused of sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell pointed out to the Australian commission that these papers were “internal working documents of another sovereign state.”

The cardinal, testifying by a remote link from Rome, told the commission that during his years in Australia he had done his best to help victims of abuse. He was instrumental in setting up the “Melbourne Response,” soon after his appointment as archbishop in that city, to provide some compensation for victims. “There was evidence that something needed to be done to deal with the suffering,” he said.

The Melbourne Response has now paid out $17 million to more than 300 sex-abuse victims. But the effort has been criticized for discouraging victims from filing lawsuits. Sex-abuse victims who did file suit have received much greater financial compensation.


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