Archbishop Pell accused
I believe Archbishop Pell's statement today:
"Certain allegations have been made about my conduct
when I was a seminarian over 40 years ago.
The allegations against me are lies and I deny them totally
and utterly. ..."
His statement included:
"... I welcome the inquiry and a chance to clear my name,
recognising that I am not above civil and Church law. ..."
What would happen under Church law? Even if the allegations
were proved, I doubt there would be a penalty for this. In 1961,
at the age of about 20, he was not ordained, he was not a cleric.
So I doubt that the procedures of Cardinal Ratzinger of 30 April
2001, Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, would apply. It
... -- A delict against morals, namely: the delict
committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue
with a minor below the age of 18 years.
Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition,
are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith.
As often as an ordinary or hierarch has at least probable
knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the
preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, which unless it calls the case
to itself because of special circumstances of things, after transmitting
appropriate norms, orders the ordinary or hierarch to proceed
ahead through his own tribunal. The right of appealing against
a sentence of the first instance, whether on the part of the
party or the party's legal representative, or on the part of
the promoter of justice, solely remains valid only to the supreme
tribunal of this congregation. ...
[This is from an unofficial English translation, published
in Origins, 24 January 2002, Volume 31, No. 32, pages 528-529.
The full Latin text of the letter is here
at www.vatican.va ]
Since there is no allegation that an offence was committed
by a cleric the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
is unlikely to be involved.
But the procedure that is being followed is from the Australian
document Towards Healing. This investigates allegations
against a wider group: "Church personnel includes
any cleric, member of a religious institute or other persons
who are employed by a Church body, or appointed by a Church body
to voluntary positions in which they work with children or young
people, or engage in other forms of pastoral care."
Important sections from Towards Healing in this case
37.4 No Church investigation shall be undertaken in such a
manner as to interfere in any way with the proper processes of
criminal or civil law, whether they are in progress or contemplated
for the foreseeable future. However, where the complainant has
chosen not to report the matter to the police or other civil
authority, or the civil authorities have decided not to take
further action under the criminal law or child protection legislation,
the Church authority must act on the complaint. ...
38.4.1 In the event that a complaint of abuse is received
against a bishop or leader of a religious institute, or the accused
person is living overseas, the Director should consult with the
Chairpersons of the National Committee for Professional Standards
concerning how to deal with the complaint. ...
38.8.2 If accused persons are asked to stand aside from any
office they hold while the matter is pending, it is to be clearly
understood that they are on leave and that no admissions of any
kind are implied by this fact. Accused persons who are clergy
or religious shall, therefore, receive their normal remuneration
and other entitlements while the matter is pending and they are
standing aside. They shall be provided with an appropriate place
to live. Where possible, they should be given some suitable activity.
They shall not engage in any public ministry during this time.
Posted by J.R. Lilburne 20 August 2002. I give what I have
written on this page to the public domain.