sabato 13 maggio 2017

theage.com.au
(Beau Donelly) Senior figures in the Catholic Church have accused Cardinal George Pell of hijacking the national compensation scheme for clergy sex abuse victims by swooping in at the last minute to announce his own initiative. Cardinal Pell, one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, launched the Melbourne Response in 1996 when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.
The controversial scheme was set up as an alternative to civil litigation, with victims of paedophile priests given access to counselling and compensation. Cardinal Pell has long said he was the first bishop to develop a program responding to the scourge of child sex abuse in the church.
But accounts from officials present at an Australian Catholic Bishops Conference shortly after Cardinal Pell announced his scheme have challenged his decades-old account, and strongly suggest he undermined the church's plan to present a unified front in dealing with the crisis.
In a new book, ABC reporter Louise Milligan writes that some bishops were "furious at Pell's lack of consultation" in announcing the Melbourne Response, three years after work had begun on the national redress scheme, Towards Healing.
According to the book, one official, Bill Uren, the then head of the Jesuit order, confronted Cardinal Pell on the conference floor in front of bishops from every diocese and leaders from religious orders around the country.
Former Auxiliary Bishop of Canberra, Pat Power, told Milligan that Cardinal Pell "broke ranks with everyone" to start his own scheme on the eve of Towards Healing being announced. The protocol for Towards Healing was released two months after Melbourne Response was launched, the book says.
"Certainly, the thing of him coming out early was something everyone felt very critical about," Power said.
Robinson said Cardinal Pell had been present for all discussions about the national scheme but that he personally knew nothing about the Melbourne Response prior the announcement, according to the book.
Another retired bishop, Bill Morris, is quoted as saying senior church figures were disappointed by the actions of Cardinal Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic cleric. "Well, this is George; George will go his own way because George wants to reform the Church according to George Pell," he said.
Cardinal Pell has previously said he had to move quickly to launch his scheme to respond to victims of abuse and because of the "uncertainty at that stage about initiatives for a national response".
"To be fair to Pell," writes Milligan, "things in the Catholic Church move in a Byzantine and sluggish way. He knew the job needed to be done. But many of his colleagues believe that in going about it the way he did, he undermined the national process with an inferior scheme, and that unity was vital when addressing such a vexed issue."
The Melbourne Response, unlike Towards Healing, has a $50,000 cap on compensation, and victims were not consulted before it was launched. It has also come under fire over the way it handled claims brought by clergy abuse survivors, including that it was run by Cardinal Pell's lawyers.
Cardinal Pell, who is one of the group of nine cardinals who act as a sort of cabinet for Pope Francis, flew from Rome to London on Friday. He told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last year that he was too ill to return to Australia to give evidence in person.   
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