Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has said the Catholic Church has made “enormous mistakes” in dealing with claims of sexual abuse. He is giving evidence from Rome via video link to an Australian inquiry into child sex abuse. Cardinal Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, will be asked whether he knew if paedophiles were active in churches under his watch. “I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” said Cardinal Pell.
“The Church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those but the Church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has let people down,” he said. Abuse survivors have flown to Rome to face the cardinal, who was excused from returning to Sydney due to ill health. The hearing, which began on Monday morning Australian time, is expected to run at least three days. Cardinal Pell is not himself accused of sexual abuse.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse is holding its second round of inquiries into child sex abuse that occurred in the city of Ballarat in Victoria state. Cardinal Pell was a priest in Ballarat and lived in a seminary with a notorious paedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, in the early 1970s. Ridsdale committed more than 130 offences against young boys while working as a chaplain at Ballarat’s St Alipius school between the 1960s and the 1980s.
Even though Cardinal Pell is not facing criminal charges, detractors have questioned the extent of his knowledge of child abuse, and say it could make his Vatican position untenable. Cardinal Pell is speaking before observers from a Rome hotel and proceedings will be streamed live to the Royal Commission’s hearing rooms in Sydney and Ballarat Town Hall, and will also be view able online. (BC News, 2016)