Cardinal George Pell has accused the Green party in Australia of being “anti-religion” after a motion was passed in the Australian senate calling for his return to the country, in order to assist the police with clerical abuse investigations.
Earlier this week it emerged that, according to an investigation by a Royal Commission in Australia, seven per cent of Catholic priests between 1950 and 2010 were accused of sexually abusing children.
Following the news, the Greens senator Rachel Siewert launched a motion acknowledging the 4,444 alleged victims of child sexual abuse and noting “the allegations of criminal misconduct against Cardinal George Pell have been forwarded to the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions by the Victoria police” and called on the cardinal to “return to Australia to assist Victorian police and the Office of Public Prosecutions with their investigations into these matters.”
The motion was subsequently passed by the Senate.
But a spokesman for the cardinal has said the motion was an act of “political point-scoring.” The statement read: “The Greens have opted for an obvious political stunt while knowing full well Cardinal Pell has consistently co-operated with the Royal Commission and the Victorian police.
“The suggestion that Cardinal Pell should be accountable for all the wrongdoings of Church personnel throughout Australia over many decades is not only unjust and completely fanciful but also acts to shield those in the Church who should be called to account for their failures.
“The Greens would be well aware of the cardinal’s decisive actions to address the evils of abuse and the changes he has implemented in the Church over 20 years ago.
“Their anti-religion agenda is notorious and most fair-minded Australians would see this motion as pathetic point-scoring.”
Last year Australian police flew to Rome to interview Cardinal Pell concerning allegations that he had previously committed sexual assault, which Cardinal Pell has firmly denied.
The cardinal gave evidence to the Royal Commission via video link from Rome in 2016 where he said the Church had made “enormous mistakes” in its handling of abuse allegations.