Bishop, gay group criticise choice of new Australian cardinal
Mike Corder | September 29, 2003
SYDNEY, Australia — An outspoken liberal bishop and a Catholic gay rights group on
Monday criticized the appointment of Sydney's conservative
archbishop as a new cardinal.
Archbishop George Pell, 62, was among 31 new cardinals created
Sunday by Pope John Paul II.
"I think for him it means it's a great personal honor and
certainly I wouldn't want to be a party pooper and try and play
that down," Canberra auxiliary Bishop Pat Power told Australian
Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"But in terms of what it means for the church, I think it
further shows the church to be representing many elements that I
think are not doing the church very much good at the moment," he
"I suppose what concerns me is that many of the values that I
think are dear to Australian Catholics - such as the dignity of the
human person, the primacy of conscience, the theology of communion,
the need for dialogue in our church, reading the signs of the times
– I don't think that they're values that are particularly clearly
enunciated by Archbishop Pell."
At a press conference Monday, Pell was unrepentant about his
"I preach the truths of the Gospel without apology," he said,
adding that, "the modern pagan mix in our society is not making
people happier or more productive."
Pell has been a lightning rod for controversy since being
appointed Sydney's archbishop in May 2001.
Last year an independent inquiry cleared him of a sex abuse
Pell briefly stepped down from his position while the claim –
made 41 years after the alleged incident happened – was
investigated. Pell maintained his innocence and described the
allegation as "a smear of the most vindictive kind."
Asked Monday if he feared the scandal would damage his chances
of promotion within the church, Pell said: "I never was worried
about the problem in those terms. Obviously it was a great concern,
I was only concerned to clear my name."
Also last year, Pell was forced to explain comments he made to a
conference in Canada, where a newspaper quoted him as saying
abortion was a worse crime than child abuse by priests.
He later contended he was quoted out of context and released a
statement saying sexual abuse of children was a grave moral
scandal, as was abortion.
Pell's appointment as archbishop of Sydney angered the city's
large gay community because he has refused to give communion to
homosexuals and once called homosexuality "a greater health hazard
Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Australian Catholic gay rights
group "Rainbow Sash," condemned Pell's appointment and said he did
not truly represent the country's Catholic community.
"There is very little question that if bishops ... were elected
by the clergy or the people or even by the local bishops of the
country that George Pell would have never even been archbishop of
Melbourne, let alone archbishop of Sydney or cardinal," Kelly told
Kelly said Pell would likely use his extra power to push his
conservative agenda, which is "not really about listening to the
marginalized or the oppressed or really supporting people who are
disenfranchised in Australian society." –Sapa-AP
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