Abuse Survivors Release Balloons in Ballarat
March 2, 2016
Survivors, supporters and victims of abuse have released one hundred white balloons in Ballarat.
They gathered for a ceremony outside the town hall after watching Cardinal George Pell give evidence before the Royal Commission for a third day.
A group of child sex abuse survivors who flew to Rome to see George Pell questioned about paedophile priests have given up on him and now need to "speak to the boss" in the Vatican.
After three days of listening to Cardinal Pell's testimony to the royal commission, the group is angry he still denies knowledge of offending by pedophile priests in Ballarat and Melbourne when he served there in senior positions in the 1970s and 1980s.
Exasperated, the survivors say they are no longer interested in the cardinal's offer to meet them, but they want him to help arrange a meeting with Pope Francis.
They want to speak to the Pope to seek his help in reforming church systems and oversight to ensure children are protected from abuse in the future.
"George Pell has made it very clear he does not have the ability, the power or the interest to do any of those things, so we need to speak to the boss," said survivor group spokesman David Ridsdale.
Mr Ridsdale, who was abused by his uncle, pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, told reporters Cardinal Pell was "giving us nothing, he doesn't care, he's turned his back on us, we don't want to meet with George at all".
He said the commission's questioning of the cardinal had demonstrated the lack of structure and accountability within the church as well as the cardinal's constant shifting of blame.
He said the church had to change from the top to ensure systems protected children.
He said his group hoped to explain to the Pope the damage done to Ballarat by the church and they would appeal to him to help repair that damage.
Many of the survivors were abused as children by priests in the Ballarat diocese, including by Australia's worst pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.
Early on Wednesday Cardinal Pell offered to meet the survivors individually or in small groups after he finished giving evidence on Thursday.
"If it's a level playing field and we're meeting a boy from Ballarat we will consider it," Mr Ridsdale said.
Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, has labelled some of the cardinal's evidence "completely implausible", including claims he was lied to and deceived by others in the church about pedophile priest activity.