Cardinal George Pell formally refuses to make funds available for church abuse victims

By Charles Miranda
March 1, 2016

David Ridsdale, who was abused by a priest, comforts Anthony Foster, father of two girls who were abused by the clergy, after his meeting with Cardinal George Pell just minutes before.
Photo by Ella Pellegrini

[with video]

CARDINAL George Pell has formally declined an appeal to make available church funds in restitution to victims of Catholic Church abuse, conceding he had no sway in the Vatican.

Despite being the effective treasurer of the Holy See the cardinal said there was nothing available for Melbourne Response — a program he set up himself in 1996 when he was the archbishop of Melbourne.

Anthony Foster, the father of two girls sexual abused by the clergy who had travelled to Rome for answers, said after his impromptu meeting with Cardinal Pell it was clear he had washed his hands of the program.

The father of Emma and Katie, abused by Father Kevin O’Donnell in the 1980s, said the Cardinal had previously told him in a meeting in Sydney he could lift funds available to victims to somewhere near to $100 million.

Mr Foster had just finished a TV interview when he inadvertently bumped into the cardinal sometime after the second day of his testimony to the child abuse royal commission hearing.

“I offered my hand to him which he shook, it was pretty tough,” said an emotional Mr Foster who added he had been in contact with the cardinal over many years and always had a cordial association.

“We had a short meeting which I’m glad we have had now rather than after the end of these hearings, and I asked him to make good on a promise he made to us two years ago … I said to him ‘you have the influence to make it happen’ and he said ‘if only it would be’. It was the response I feared. It is very disappointing and upsetting.”

Mr Foster said it was clearly over and the cardinal and the church no longer want to assist in mending the past.

He said he just now hoped the cardinal would admit what he knew of past abuses by the church.

“I think given the evidence now it is open to the commission to make a finding he was unreliable and in fact he did know,” he said.



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