Cardinal George Pell has rubbished a Senate motion calling for him to return to Australia over a misconduct investigation, slamming the upper house's "interference" in the police action.
In February, a Greens motion agreed to by the federal Senate called on Pell -- currently based in the Vatican -- to come back to Australia after Victoria Police reportedly began investigations of criminal misconduct against the former Archbishop of Melbourne. The Senate motion also noted "4444 people made allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church, including the clergy, between January 1980 and February 2015".
At the time of the motion, Pell's office said in a statement: "The suggestion that Cardinal Pell should be accountable for all the wrong doings of Church personnel throughout Australia over many decades is not only unjust and completely fanciful but also acts to shield those in the Church who should be called to account for their failures."
In a formal letter to the Senate, tabled in the parliament on Monday, Pell went further in his response, criticising the upper house for even agreeing to the motion.
"I am concerned that the Senate's motion appears to have been made on the basis of a significant misunderstanding of my willingness to assist the Victoria Police in their investigations of allegations made against me. The use of parliamentary privilege to attack me on this basis is both extraordinary and unjust," Pell wrote.
"Given that the investigation is ongoing, any calls from the Senate for my return to Australia can only be perceived as an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria Police investigation."
Pell commented on "the inappropriateness" of the motion.
"Further, in circumstances where the vast majority of the allegations highlighted in the Motion in fact relate to offences which occurred prior to my appointment as an Archbishop (and in a significant number of instances before I was even ordained as a priest) it is unjust and seriously misleading to link all offences and allegations against Church personnel to me," he continued.
"I strongly believe that I should be permitted the same due process as any other Australian in an ongoing investigation, and that the Senate's interference in that regard is extraordinary. I call on the Senate to withdraw its call for me to return to Australia."
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