CARDINAL George Pell’s appointment to a top Vatican post is ‘‘unsettling’’, ‘‘disappointing’’ and ‘‘a deadset shocker’’, say victims of the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse crisis and their families.
The cardinal’s move to Rome at the end of March after he gives evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse shocked people who campaigned for the historic inquiry.
Pope Francis named Cardinal Pell as head of a new group to reform the Vatican’s administration and finances in a surprise announcement on Monday.
Australia’s first ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer said it was a wise move.
But, Hunter abuse spokesman Peter Gogarty, and royal commission campaigners Chrissie and Anthony Foster, of Victoria, condemned the appointment.
‘‘This is a brand new job that gives George Pell an opportunity to leave this country in five weeks and there will be nothing compelling him to return to Australia to answer questions about anything raised at the royal commission in future,’’ Mr Gogarty said. ‘‘It’s a deadset shocker.’’
The commission hearing will consider the case of child sexual abuse victim John Ellis and how the Sydney Archdiocese handled his Towards Healing claim and legal case against it.
Mr and Mrs Foster, whose two daughters were sexually assaulted by a priest, said George Pell needed to face the consequences of the Church’s actions in Australia before going to Rome.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who campaigned with the Newcastle Herald for a royal commission, said the new position was ‘‘disturbing’’.
A spokeswoman for Cardinal Pell and the Sydney Archdiocese did not respond to questions.