Abuse Survivors Push to Meet Pope during Cardinal George Pell Hearings
By Lisa Millar
March 2, 2016
|PHOTO: The Ballarat group of survivors wants to meet the Pope. (ABC News)|
It is a long haul — the hours after midnight.
But Cardinal George Pell appeared engaged until the end.
At 3:00am in Rome, lawyer Kristine Hanscombe, who was in Sydney, asked if he was able to continue for another five minutes.
"Of course," Cardinal Pell said, as if there was nothing out of the ordinary about this entire event.
The final day will be even longer — six hours — from 9:00pm until 3:00am in Rome.
That should remove the need for a fifth day of hearings.
But it is the sideline issue over who is meeting who that is becoming the focus here in Rome.
The Ballarat group was looking for a meeting with Cardinal Pell by the end of the week, but now they want to meet the Pontiff.
An audience with the Pope at such short notice is unlikely and it would require the assistance of Cardinal Pell himself.
|PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell has been giving testimony to the child abuse royal commission in Rome. (ABC News)|
His office released a statement saying he will try to help but it is up to the officials responsible with the Vatican.
He is still open to meetings with the survivors on Thursday but they are less than enthused because of the restrictions.
"If we're meeting a boy from Ballarat meeting boys from Ballarat, then we will consider it," David Ridsdale said.
During one of the breaks, abuse survivor Andrew Collins said he had woken up angry after the second night of evidence from Cardinal Pell, when he had said abuse claims had not been of much interest to him.
"But you know what? Now I just feel sad," he said.
"Pell was born in Ballarat, and here he is in the Vatican. He could have been the hero of Ballarat."
It has been an emotionally draining week, but nothing is being absolutely ruled out.
Not even the possibility of a meeting with the Pope.