Cardinal George Pell’s new job at the Vatican is not an honour but an “escape clause”, says a group representing survivors of child sex abuse by priests.
Pope Francis on Monday revealed Cardinal Pell will be in charge of the Vatican budget.
Australia’s leading Catholic said in a statement on Tuesday he was “deeply honoured” to be made head of the new Secretariat for the Economy, which will aim to modernise the church bureaucracy.
Cardinal Pell has come under fire in recent years over his response to cases of historic abuse by priests.
He will take up his new Vatican post in March but has indicated he will still appear before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse when it sits in Sydney next month.
Pope Francis appoints brilliant Cardinal Pell from Sydney to be no.3 power in Vatican. Australia will miss him but world will benefit.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 25, 2014
But Nicky Davis of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) says she believes Cardinal Pell will continue to evade facing up to the church’s responsibility.
“It’s absolutely no surprise that Cardinal Pell has been given a golden parachute by the Vatican to leave the jurisdiction just when things are getting hot at the royal commission.
“That’s what a lot of survivors expected,” she told AAP.
Ms Davis said that to survivors the appointment was “a kick in the head, a slap in the face”.
“It’s not a wonderful honour, it’s an escape clause.”
Ms Davis said she believed Cardinal Pell would keep trying to “close the purse strings to survivors” when in his new job at the Vatican.
She said the church was not capable of facing up to its responsibilities because it was “so deeply mired in these crimes”.
“I think they will need to be forced the whole way.”
Cardinal Pell’s office has been contacted for comment.