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Cardinal Pell asks for fair treatment, says he will not resign

March 04, 2016

Cardinal George Pell lamented that he had become a "hate figure," but vowed that he would not resign unless Pope Francis asked him to do so, in an interview following his four days of testimony before an Australian royal commission on sexual abuse.

"No, I won't resign," Cardinal Pell told Andrew Bolt of Sky News, who had secured the exclusive interview. "That would be an admission of guilt." He went on to say that if Pope Francis asked for his resignation, he would point out the implications, "but I'd do whatever he wanted."

The Australian cardinal-- who now serves as the prefect of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy-- admitted that it has been "very, very difficult, and very, very upsetting" to be subjected to hostile questioning about his handling of sex-abuse complaints, and to be target of a relentlessly negative media campaign in his native country. But he insisted that he never knowingly covered up evidence of abuse. He remarked: "One of the interesting things is when you become a hate figure, people either imagine or... I don't know... the worst stories about you."

Cardinal Pell had been criticized by his Australian critics for maintaining a stoical attitude during his testimony before the royal commission. He said that he was working to maintain self-discipline to rein in his fiery temper, and that "helps explain my wooden appearance."

Questioned more generally about the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, the cardinal again conceded that the problem had been handled poorly by the hierarchy. When asked whether the Church had seen a disproportionate amount of abuse, he replied: "We've got to plead guilty to that."

 

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