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Dolan: Pell’s response to abuse charges shows ‘mettle of a great man’

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York greets volunteers during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” July 1 in Orlando, Florida. Leaders from dioceses and various Catholic organizations are gathering for the July 1-4 convocation. (Credit: CNS photo/Bob Roller.)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said he wants to “stick with” his old friend Cardinal George Pell of Australia, who’s facing criminal charges of sexual abuse. He also said the Catholic Church needs to be more aggressive in speaking out about anti-Christian persecution – and suggested that Pope Francis may have a unique capacity to call out offenders.

ORLANDO, Florida – Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, a longtime friend of Australian Cardinal George Pell who’s now facing a criminal indictment for sexual abuse, said “I don’t want to believe” the charges and that Pell’s determination to cooperate with the judicial process and acknowledge he’s not above the law “only shows the mettle of a great man.”

“He’s the kind of man about whom I would find such reports to be completely contrary to everything he stands for,” Dolan said.

“I feel terribly sad for my good friend Cardinal George Pell, sad for him and sad with him. I want to be very supportive, because I have immense admiration for him, I admire him, and I want to stick with him.”

Dolan spoke to Crux in Orlando, Florida, during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders,” a summit of more than 3,000 bishops, priests and religious, and laity to discuss the future of evangelization efforts in American Catholicism.

His faith in Pell, Dolan stressed, should not come at the expense of concern for abuse victims.

“We’ve got to cooperate with the civil authorities, as Cardinal Pell is doing here,” Dolan said. “Never again must a victim-survivor feel that if he or she comes forward that they won’t be believed.

“But the most basic thing victim-survivors have always asked for is justice, and justice means getting to the truth of what happened. In this case, I’m praying, and I really believe, that the truth will vindicate Cardinal Pell,” he said.