Pell slammed for steak, chips and beer meal in Rome

Cardinal George Pell has been criticised for his dietary choices in Rome after he said he was too ill to fly to Australia to testify at a royal commission.

On April 18, Cardinal Pell was photographed in Rome’s Domiziano restaurant eating a meal of steak and chips, washed down with a large beer.

A few weeks previously, Australia’s Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had accepted medical evidence that Cardinal Pell should not fly to Australia.

The medical testimony was that a long distance flight could severely impact his health and possibly lead to heart failure.

Cardinal Pell was eventually allowed to give testimony on abuse responses in Ballarat and Melbourne via video link from Rome, with his last appearance in early March.

The mother of six children abused by a Ballarat clergyman 30 years ago said she was “absolutely disgusted” at the photos of Cardinal Pell’s steak, chips and beer meal.

Ruth Lane told Daily Mail Australia: “He’s doing that with a bad heart?”

One of Mrs Lane’s children who had been abused subsequently committed suicide.

The criticism was picked up by Sydney radio presenter Ben Fordham on 2GB.

“I’m no cardiologist, but I think Cardinal Pell should probably have a chat to one . . . “, Mr Fordham said.

“Is it a little hypocritical to say your heart is too fragile to fly but you’re okay to chow down on steak and chips and beer?

“I imagine if you’re too ill to handle a plane trip then you probably should be sticking to a healthier diet,” Mr Fordham said.

Writing in The Australian, Gerald Henderson defended Cardinal Pell.

He wrote that the medical evidence accepted by the commission stated that the cardinal suffered from a medical condition which could induce heart failure due to the depressurised environment of long air travel.

“This is not an uncommon condition in people aged in their mid-70s,” Mr Henderson wrote.

“ . . . [I]n his abysmal ignorance, Mr Fordham reckons there is no difference in the medical consequences of having a meal of steak and chips, followed by a beer, in Rome – and undertaking a long air journey from Rome to Melbourne (during which passengers also happen to eat and drink).”


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