Sydney Cardinal George Pell has apologised and offered to meet abuse victim, Anthony Jones, over a "poorly drafted" letter but Jones has repudiated the apology as "not genuine".
The Australian reports Cardinal Pell apologised only for badly drafting a 2003 letter in which he said Anthony Jones' claims of sexual assault at the hands of Fr Terence Goodall could not be substantiated.
He did not apologise for dismissing Mr Jones' claims or for subsequently suggesting the attack could have been consensual, despite revelations Father Goodall had admitted forcing himself on Mr Jones.
"I do apologise to you for my (2003) letter … which was poorly drafted and, I regret, open to interpretations which I did not intend," Dr Pell said to Mr Jones in a letter that arrived yesterday. Dr Pell also offered to meet Mr Jones and promised a formal response to his complaint against the Church within weeks.
But Mr Jones responded saying: "I expected an apology (in which he admitted) he got the whole thing wrong. Until that happens, there will be no peace."
He accused Cardinal Pell of being aware since 2005 of Father Goodall's admission the attack was not consensual, "so his apology is not genuine".
Speaking yesterday at the Sydney launch of a new book about Catholic activist B.A. Santamaria, Cardinal Pell said the independent panel he had appointed to re-examine Mr Jones' case had met "at least once" and was continuing to examine the matter.
But he would not be drawn on his letter to Mr Jones. "The matter is not concluded yet and it is a lot better to try to make progress on these issues at a personal level rather than through the press."
Dr Pell also appeared to dismiss victims' demands the Church overhaul the way it deals with sex abuse claims in the courts, chiefly by identifying an entity against which claims can be made rather than refusing to nominate a responsible body.
"We've looked at these issues and we have the same rights as other citizens and will continue to exercise them legally and well," he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald adds that Cardinal Pell has also offered to meet Mr Jones.
However, Mr Jones said Cardinal Pell's previous offer was conditional on the facts of the case not being discussed: "I want to sit down with my lawyer and look him in the eyes and confront him with my story and have it resolved."
Mr Jones said: "There is quite a journey to go. We have to sit down in a room and be brutally honest with each other."
SOURCEPell says sorry for priest sex abuse letter (The Age, 13/8/08)
Sorry Pell to see abused man (SMH, 13/8/08)