Following media reports of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell in the County Court of Victoria, a statement has been released by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, to the community. A copy is linked here for your information.
News of this verdict of Cardinal Pell will give rise to a range of emotions and responses and the legal process will continue to run its course.
We should never forget, that in any matter of this nature, our concerns and prayers are with victims and their families. Please be assured, that our school system works tirelessly to ensure the safety of every child in our schools, and will continue to do so, as together we share the responsibility for the wellbeing of your children.
Concerns of child abuse and crimes must be reported to the relevant authorities which are the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) and the Police.
Child Protection personnel at the Catholic Education Office in Wollongong are also available to provide confidential advice and support as required. Our CEO reception phone number is (02) 4253 0800.
If you or your child requires support or advice, please directly contact your school's principal, or you may also wish to contact the CatholicCare Sydney Parent Line NSW on 1300 1300 52.
Pastoral letter from Bishop Brian Mascord on the sentencing of Cardinal Pell
My Sisters and Brothers,
Conscious of the decision given today in Melbourne, I write to you amid the hurt, confusion, anger and other emotions that we may all feel at this time. As you would be aware, Cardinal George Pell was given a six-year custodial sentence relating to five charges of child sexual abuse.
Uppermost in my mind is the concern for those who have been abused. Recovery from such trauma can take a lifetime, if at all. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to give support to those who have been abused and ensure, in very practical ways, that our children and vulnerable people are safe in our communities.
At this time, I recognise the pain this whole matter has caused you as fellow members of the Catholic community. The abuse of minors by those ordained to represent the love and mercy of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is a profound betrayal of people entrusted to their pastoral care.
I am also aware that Cardinal Pell has lodged an appeal against his conviction, as he has every right to do under Australian law. Therefore, it is not appropriate for me to make any further comment that could be seen to prejudice the outcome of the appeals process.
This is a difficult time for everyone as the pain of today is being felt by so many—it is a shared pain. Let us reaffirm our desire, broken as we are, to become the Church that Jesus calls us to be.
I offer my continued support, and if you desire any assistance, please contact the diocesan director of professional standards and safeguarding, Ms Asante Viswasam, on (02) 4222 2405. If you would prefer to speak to an external organisation for support, LifeLine is available on 13 11 14.
Yours in Christ,
Most Rev Brian G Mascord DD
Bishop of Wollongong