Abuse survivors up for Pell meeting

9 News
March 03, 2016

Survivors of child sex abuse who were crowdfunded to Rome to see George Pell give evidence before a royal commission say they've achieved "times a thousand" what they set out to do.

The group, many of whom were sexually abused as children by priests and brothers in the Victorian town of Ballarat, hugged and shed tears at the end of Cardinal Pell's four nights of testimony from a Rome hotel.

The survivors vowed to continue their campaign to ensure children are protected from sexual abuse, including ensuring the Catholic Church changes its systems to prevent such abuse.

They meet with the cardinal later on Thursday and hope to meet with Pope Francis on Friday to put their case and explain the reality of trauma for abuse victims.

Survivor group spokesman David Ridsdale said they had achieved "times a thousand more" than they set out to do, with their campaign gaining global media attention.

"We wanted to come and witness, we wanted to make sure the commission was the same process that we had when we faced the commission in Australia, we feel that was achieved," he told journalists outside the hotel early on Thursday.

"But so much more's happened. We've ended up with the ears of the world, so please understand that while we're fighting one battle in Ballarat, we're hoping to steamroll a whole deal more.

"Don't underestimate broken people."

But they weren't impressed with Cardinal Pell's evidence.

"The Ballarat survivors came to Rome to hear truth and honesty from George. We feel we have been deceived and lied to," survivor Philip Nagle said.

"We feel George has not been honest nor truthful. George will have to live with this chosen course."

Cardinal Pell, 74, was questioned by the commission over his knowledge of pedophile priests in the Ballarat and Melbourne dioceses in the 1970s and 1980s and whether he was involved in covering up such offending when he served there.

His denials that he was unaware of pedophile priests in Ballarat angered abuse victims who say such abuse was common knowledge in communities and he must have known of them.

Counsel assisting the commission also labelled some of the cardinal's evidence "completely implausible" as he blamed others in the church for cover-ups of clergy abuse.

An emotional Mr Ridsdale said he had learned "a new layer of tired" after attending the hearings between 10pm and 2am Rome time to suit the commission sitting in Sydney.

On Thursday morning the abuse survivors will meet with Cardinal Pell at the hotel where he gave evidence, while some of the group will also meet with representatives of the church's Pontifical Commission for Child Abuse.

Mr Ridsdale said they hoped to explain the impact of trauma on sex abuse survivors, something the church did not appear to understand.

The group has also sought an audience with the Pope but Mr Ridsdale said there was a lot of red tape involved and he expected to know more on Thursday.

Cardinal Pell was deemed too ill to travel to Australia to give evidence so was granted leave to give it by videolink to the child abuse royal commission sitting in Sydney.



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