The Archdiocese of Sydney has rejected a Fairfax media report yesterday as "utterly false and seriously defamatory", the Archdiocese of Sydney said in a statement.
The Archdiocese said the story, which alleged that Cardinal Pell was “tainted by sex abuse scandals”, had no basis in fact and deliberately misrepresented the outcome of a 2002 inquiry by a retired Victorian Supreme Court judge which completely exonerated Cardinal Pell of allegations made against him.
"At all times, including in sworn evidence before the Southwell Inquiry, Cardinal Pell denied the allegations," the Archdiocese said.
"In the conclusion to his report after an exhaustive investigation, former Victorian Judge the Honourable AJ Southwell QC wrote:“I find I am not ‘satisfied that the complaint has been established’, to quote the words of the principal term of reference”, the Archdiocese's statement continued.
"As Judge Southwell explained in his report, he could not be satisfied that the complaint was established 'unless I were satisfied that the version of the complainant is truthful and substantially accurate'."
The Archdiocese added that Judge Southwell did not accept the complainant’s version of events, and that Cardinal Pell is innocent of the allegations.
"Indeed, (the Age journalist involved) Mr Zwartz correctly reported in an article published by the Age on 14 June 2010 that “Cardinal Pell stood down as Archbishop of Sydney in 2002 after he was accused of abusing a teenager at a church camp in the 1960s, but an independent investigation by a retired non-Catholic judge cleared him." Inexplicably, this has been omitted from Mr Zwartz’s latest article.
"As Archbishop in two cities Cardinal Pell has worked hard to eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from the Church and to show his deep compassion for victims and survivors of sexual abuse not just by words but also by actions.
"Instead of presenting these facts and the outcome of the Southwell Inquiry fairly as it should, the Fairfax press has opted to publish a smear of the most vindictive kind."
The Archdiocese said Fairfax and other media which are repeating this story are being contacted by Cardinal Pell’s lawyers.
(CathNews ran a different story on the subject yesterday but carried a link in its story to the Fairfax report.)
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