Pell says he is willing to go to Ballarat for abuse hearing

Cardinal George Pell has said he is willing to travel to Ballarat to give evidence at a royal commission that is hearing horrendous accounts of child abuse.

Abuse victims have called on Cardinal Pell to give evidence to the inquiry to answer questions about the Church’s response to the abuse.

“So far I have not been asked to give evidence in any form, but as I have said repeatedly, I am deeply committed to assisting the royal commission and to doing anything I can to help survivors,” Cardinal Pell said in a statement.

There have been harrowing accounts from survivors of abuse and there have also been reports of multiple suicides of victims.

Cardinal Pell’s evidence could be heard at a second round of hearings in Ballarat later this year.

He testified by video link at a royal commission hearing in August last year.

The hearings in Ballarat have heard testimony that Cardinal Pell tried to bribe a victim and ignored another.

From Rome, the cardinal repeated previous denials of wrongdoing.

This week, the commission heard testimony by video link from notorious paedophile ex-priest Gerard Ridsdale.

Speaking from prison, Ridsdale said he never had much to do with Pell, despite the two sharing a presbytery in East Ballarat in the 1970s.

This was during a time when Ridsdale was raping boys from St Alpius School in Ballarat.

Ridsdale said he didn’t discuss his offending with Pell, but admitted sharing meals with him and generally chatting.

Cardinal Pell, who is now the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy at the Vatican, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of Ridsdale’s abuse prior to 1993.

The commission also heard that Pell was present at a September 1982 meeting involving three other senior clerics – including then-Bishop Ronald Mulkearns – who had all received complaints about Ridsdale’s behaviour towards children.

At the meeting there was a discussion about removing Ridsdale from the Victorian town of Mortlake – where he has since admitted abusing more than 50 children – and moving him to Sydney.

The Age newspaper issued an unreserved apology to Cardinal Pell after “Die Pell” appeared above a photo of him on its Facebook page.


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