Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Pray for World Youth Day...it is going to need it

The Pope has asked for prayers for him in the lead up to World Youth Day. You might also want to spare a few for Cardinal Pell and the organisers of the event, as the bad news stories keep coming.

If ever you wanted proof that of Sydney's secular spirit, and the devil's fightback, here it is.

Yesterday came the news that train drivers are planning to strike at the height of the celebrations, a move that would cause utter chaos. The State Government is heading for the Industrial Court today in an effort to have the strike deferred.

The Sydney papers continue to run a series of negative reaction stories (yesterday a whinge from a liberal parish priest, today a layperson complaining about the merchandising, and complaints that billeters don't know who they are getting yet).

The most damaging story yet though, is a claim in today's Sydney Morning Herald that Cardinal Pell covered up an abuse claim:

"Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, wrote to the victim, Anthony Jones, on February 14, 2003, claiming his complaint of sexual assault could not be substantiated because an investigator had found that no other victims had come forward and that the priest, Father Terence Goodall, had denied the allegations.

However, documents obtained by the ABC's Lateline show that on the same day he wrote to Mr Jones, Cardinal Pell wrote to a second victim - who was nine when Father Goodall abused him - to say he was satisfied with the truth of that man's complaint.

Three weeks earlier, Cardinal Pell had received a report from an independent investigation by Howard Murray into Father Goodall. This advised him that the complaints of both men should be upheld, but Cardinal Pell's letter to Mr Jones directly contradicted that advice."

The story is, however, largely a beat up since firstly Cardinal Pell wrote a second letter shortly afterwards expressing his sorrow at what Mr Jones had suffered and offering to meet him, secondly Fr Goodall was stood down and the allegations were investigated, and thirdly, in 2005, Father Goodall pleaded guilty to two counts of indecently assaulting Mr Jones (though he received only a token sentence).

Cardinal Pell has denied there was a cover-up or that he tried to mislead Mr Jones.

"There was no attempt at a cover-up," he said. "The letter to Mr Jones was badly worded and a mistake - an attempt to inform him there was no other allegation of rape."

"However, I signed both letters of February 2003 mentioned in the ABC's Lateline program, and any fault in the drafting was mine.

"The accusations against Father Goodall were investigated by the church and the police and Father Goodall was stood down.

"In a subsequent letter soon after the February 2003 letter I expressed my sorrow at what Mr Jones had suffered and offered to meet him.

"There was no attempt to mislead him. I apologise for the confusion caused to Mr Jones."

Pray hard!

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