Australia

'Day of prayer' for Cardinal George Pell cancelled

A flyer for the "Day of Prayer" that has since been cancelled. Source: SBS News

A day in support of Cardinal George Pell, to be held at a Melbourne chapel today, has been cancelled following public backlash.

Flyers advertising an event at the Nazareth House Chapel in Camberwell in support of convicted Cardinal George Pell created plenty of public backlash.

And the "day of prayer" for the cardinal,  who remains in custody awaiting a June appeal date, has been cancelled. 

Australia’s most senior catholic cleric was found guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year old choir boys in Melbourne during the 1990s in November last year.

He insists his innocence.

The cancellation of today's event followed public backlash against the prayer day being held.  

A flyer for the "Day of Prayer" that has since been cancelled.
A flyer for the "Day of Prayer" that has since been cancelled.
SBS News

A sign displayed outside the Melbourne Chapel said the event organised by Divine Mercy Publications would not go ahead.

"The planned Day of Prayer... has been cancelled."

The chapel is on the same grounds as a residential aged care facility run by Nazareth Care Australasia.

In a statement its CEO David Cotter said the chapel was run independently of the company and it did not support the proposed day. 

"Nazareth Care Australasia respects the Australian judicial system, and the court's verdict in this matter," the statement reads. 

"[The company] had no prior knowledge of this event and has not been involved in any way."

He said action was taken to cancel the event as soon as they became aware and an investigation is underway.

A sign outside Nazareth House Chapel in Camberwell.
A sign outside Nazareth House Chapel in Camberwell.
SBS News

Critics of the event online said prayers should instead be going to victims of Mr Pell's alleged crimes.

Investigative journalist Lucie Morris-Marr shared that sentiment tweeting: “What about a day of prayer for the choirboys? Especially the one who died in 2014?"

While, another critic, Peter Wicks, tweeted simply: “No prayers for the victims...”

Andrew Klein too questioned the services “priorities” tweeting: "Where is the outrage at the disclosure from the Royal Commission? Where is the outrage regarding institutional failure? A day of prayer for the thousands of victims of abuse?"

Cardinal George Pell and Barrister Robert Richter. The QC has now quit the cardinal's legal team.
Cardinal George Pell and Barrister Robert Richter. The QC has now quit the cardinal's legal team.
AAP

The event flyer included recent comments made by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher at a mass to Catholic worshipers last Sunday.

“If we are took quick to judge we can end up joining the demonisers or the apologists, those baying for blood or those in denial,” he told the service.

“Our [Sunday] readings remind us that things are not always what they seem; that we must look beneath the surface and allow truth and justice to unfold in God’s good time.”

Nazareth House Chapel located in Melbourne, Victoria.
Nazareth House Chapel located in Melbourne, Victoria.
SBS News

Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne director of media and communications Shane Healy told SBS News they "were aware that the event has been cancelled." 

Twitter user, Alison Baker said she supported that decision.

"Thank goodness… it’s been cancelled,” she tweeted

“How anyone could think it was a good idea, I don’t know."  

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