Cardinal Pell Holds "Emotional" Meeting with Abuse Survivors
March 3, 2016
|Cardinal George Pell addresses the press after meeting sexual abuse survivors in Rome on Thursday. - REUTERS|
Cardinal George Pell on Thursday met for nearly two hours with about a dozen victims of sexual abuse from the Australian Diocese of Ballarat at the Quirinale hotel in Rome.
Cardinal Pell has been giving testimony this week to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse, which looking into sexual abuse at different institutions in Australia.
The Diocese of Ballarat, located in the State of Victoria, has had several clerics and religious accused of abuse during a 30-year period from the 1960’s, and over a dozen suicides have been attributed to the abuse. Cardinal Pell was ordained for the Diocese of Ballarat in 1966.
After the meeting, Cardinal Pell called the encounter “honest and occasionally emotional,” and acknowledged “the evil that was done.”
“We all want to try to make things better actually and on the ground especially for the survivors and their families and I undertake to continue to help the group work effectively with the committees and agencies that we have here in the Church in Rome and especially the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors,” Cardinal Pell said.
He also addressed issue of those who had taken their life due to the abuse.
“One suicide is too many. And there have been many such tragic suicides,” Cardinal Pell said. “I commit myself to working with the group to try to stop this so that suicide is not seen as an option for those who are suffering.”
The full statement read by Cardinal Pell is below
I’ve just met with about a dozen of the Ballarat survivors, support people and officials and heard each of their stories and of their sufferings. It was hard; an honest and occasionally emotional meeting. I am committed to working with these people from Ballarat and surrounding areas. I know many of their families and I know the goodness of so many people in Catholic Ballarat: a goodness which is not extinguished by the evil that was done.
We all want to try to make things better actually and on the ground especially for the survivors and their families and I undertake to continue to help the group work effectively with the committees and agencies that we have here in the Church in Rome and especially the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
One suicide is too many. And there have been many such tragic suicides. I commit myself to working with the group to try to stop this so that suicide is not seen as an option for those who are suffering. I too despite the separation of distance want to help to make Ballarat a model and a better place of healing, for healing, and for peace.
Now, I shouldn’t promise what might be impossible. We all know how hard it is to get things done. But I do want it known that I support the work to investigate the feasibility of a research center to enhance healing and to improve protection.
The church-going people of Ballarat diocese are known for their loyalty and for their charity. And I urge them to continue to cooperate with the survivors to improve the situation. I owe a lot to the people and community of Ballarat; I acknowledge that with deep gratitude. It would be marvelous if our city became well-known as an effective center and the example of practical help for all those wounded by the scourge of sexual abuse.