ABUSE TRACKER

A digest of links to media coverage of clergy abuse. For recent coverage listed in this blog, read the full article in the newspaper or other media source by clicking “Read original article.” For earlier coverage, click the title to read the original article.

June 1, 2015

Vatican finance chief legal threat over ‘sociopath’ claim

AUSTRALIA
BBC News

The Vatican’s finance chief George Pell is seeking legal advice after being accused of an “almost sociopathic” approach to child abuse allegations.

The allegations from Peter Saunders, a member of the Vatican’s own commission on child protection, come as Australia investigates historic abuses.

Australian-born Cardinal Pell denies accusations he helped cover up abuses by a paedophile priest.
He has offered to testify at the Australian inquiry.

Mr Saunders, himself a victim of abuse by a priest, was appointed by Pope Francis last year to the Vatican’s new commission to protect children.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

More questions for Cardinal Pell

AUSTRALIA
9 News

A victims’ advocate who once worked with George Pell says the cardinal needs to respond to claims that he protected known pedophile priests across Victoria, not just in Ballarat.

In Good Faith Foundation chief executive Helen Last says numerous pedophile priests across the state have been protected by the Catholic Church over the years, some while Cardinal Pell held top-ranking positions.

Ms Last worked in pastoral care with victims abused by Catholic priests in the Melbourne diocese at a time Cardinal Pell was the Archbishop of Melbourne.

Her job was to set up a response unit for victims that not only provided a caring environment but worked with police and therapists.

Ms Last said she never felt like her office had Cardinal Pell’s full support and claims he shut them down.

“It’s not only Ballarat that’s the problem, it’s the Melbourne archdiocese, Healesville, Sunbury, it’s Doveton,” Ms Last told 3AW radio on Monday.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Vatican dispute over Australia child abuse inquiry

AUSTRALIA
Deutche Welle

Vatican finance chief George Pell has summoned his lawyers after a special commissioner of the Pope accused him of “disregard” for abused children. The Australian cardinal has rejected the accusations as “false”.

The Pope’s commissioner for the protection of children, Peter Saunders, said on Australian television that the Vatican finance chief George Pell should be dismissed. Speaking on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, he accused the Australian cardinal of having failed to take action to protect children from abuse in the Catholic Church of his home country.

“He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care,” said Peter Saunders, a British victim of child sexual abuse recently appointed by Pope Francis. He said Pell should be “moved aside” from his Vatican role and sent back to Australia to address a separate Australian abuse inquiry.

Formerly the Archbishop of Sydney and now the Vatican’s “Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy,” Pell summoned his lawyers on Monday. A statement issued by his office said the allegations were “false and misleading”.

Cardinal Pell repeatedly denied claims raised in an Australian abuse inquiry that he helped move priests accused of abuse to another parish or offered one victim inducements to drop a complaint.

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Pell legal threat not surprising: Saunders

AUSTRALIA
Daily Mail

An outspoken member of Pope Francis’s child protection commission says he is not surprised George Pell is threatening him with legal action.

However, child abuse survivor Peter Saunders insists he will not shut up for anyone.

Mr Saunders has called on the Pope to “move aside” Cardinal Pell from his role as financial chief at the Vatican over claims he helped cover up pedophile activity in Australia.

Cardinal Pell, who denies the allegations, responded with a statement in which he says he has been left with no alternative but to “consult with his legal advisers”.

Mr Saunders said that was “very unfortunate, very sad and very unChristian”.

“The church, including the church in Australia, has a long history of spending an enormous amount of money on defending perpetrator priests and other clerics, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that Cardinal Pell is resorting to using the massive resources of the Vatican to essentially consider threatening me in some way,” Mr Saunders told AAP on Monday.

The 58-year-old stressed he was speaking as a survivor and founder of Britain’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood – not in his capacity as a commissioner.

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Pell lashes back after Church official’s strong criticism

AUSTRALIA
SBS

[with audio]

By Gareth Boreham
1 JUN 2015

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric has accused a senior Church official of making false and misleading claims about him and his response to child sexual abuse.

Cardinal George Pell’s remarks come in response to the Vatican’s child-protection adviser declaring the Cardinal’s position untenable

A victim of abuse himself, Peter Saunders now serves as the Catholic Church’s Commissioner for the Protection of Children.

As Gareth Boreham reports, he has been scathing of Cardinal Pell’s history in dealing with complaints against priests.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Give Pell a fair go, says Catholic Church

AUSTRALIA
7 News

By Melissa Meehan and Tracey Ferrier
June 1, 2015

Cardinal George Pell will be asked to give evidence at the royal commission into child sex abuse as the Catholic Church has asked Australians to give him a fair go.

The commission will ask him to return from Rome to appear in the second of the Ballarat hearings later this year.

“The Chair has received a letter from Cardinal Pell indicating that he is prepared to come to Australia to give evidence,” the commission said in a statement on Monday.

He has promised full co-operation with the royal commission.

Cardinal Pell came under fire following claims aired in the first Ballarat hearings last month that he offered bribes or ignored warnings about Australia’s worst paedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, in the 1970s.

Many survivors of abuse demanded the Vatican’s finance chief appear again at the commission to answer the claims he has already repeatedly denied.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne came out in Cardinal Pell’s defence on Monday urging people to hold off from making hasty judgments.

“I hope all Australians who believe in a fair go will give Cardinal Pell the opportunity to answer the criticisms that have been raised in both the royal commission and the media before drawing any final conclusions,” Archbishop Denis Hart said in a statement on Monday.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor memoirs ‘censored’ by church

UNITED KINGDOM
The Guardian

Ed Salter and Haroon Siddique
Sunday 31 May 2015

The Catholic church has been accused of pressuring one of its senior figures to censor extracts of his memoirs relating to a sexual abuse scandal.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the church in England and Wales, is said to have been forced to cut chunks from his new book relating to the crisis in his ministry in which he failed to report a paedophile priest to the police and let him continue working. The clergyman, Michael Hill, was later jailed twice for sexually assaulting young victims.

Among the sections understood to have been cut is one in which Murphy-O’Connor defends the right to protect priests when they have erred. Murphy-O’Connor, while Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, moved Hill to the chaplaincy at Gatwick airport despite being warned he was a danger to young people. The cardinal faced calls to resign over the scandal.

In the published version of An English Spring, the extract about the duty towards fellow clergy is said to have been replaced with a lament about bishops’ failure to prioritise abuse victims over their priests.

Associates of the cardinal, who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian that he had been obliged to censor his work. One said: “A number of us, his friends, were asked to read the typescript in draft. I understand that pressure was put on the cardinal by church authorities to excise sections of the chapter on Michael Hill along with other material in the book.”

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The dirty secret of our criminal justice system

AUSTRALIA
Sydney Morning Herald

June 1, 2015

Phil Cleary

In my 1998 book Cleary Independent, I wrote of feeling “a shock wave of apprehension when a Christian Brother opened the door one night at a retreat and asked, ‘Do you need to be tucked in?’ The same bloke had earlier taken me to the presbytery for what he called a ‘vocational talk’. When he inquired as to the level of my sexual knowledge and the operations of particular parts, I sought my leave.” It was 1966 and I was 13 years of age when I escaped the Brother’s clutches.

After reading the book, “Tim” sent me an email saying that the Brother in question, Keith Weston, had routinely masturbated him and a number of other boys at St Joseph’s College, Pascoe Vale. I’d not named Weston for fear of defamation action had the rumour mill been wrong about his abuse of young boys. In 2004, 81-year-old Weston pleaded guilty to molesting the boys, but due to prostate cancer and failing health received a suspended two-and-a-half-year jail sentence. That prompted a letter from one of the boys which in part read: “We nailed old ‘Tex’ Keith Weston … an evil, prolific, cruel, mean, predatory, paedophile …”

I can’t properly explain why I didn’t tell my parents, or someone didn’t blow the whistle on Weston (who is now dead). It’s hard to believe other Brothers or those in the top echelons of the Church didn’t know about his abuse at various Catholic schools. I’ll never forget the fear that gripped us when he went on the warpath after a few drinks over lunch.

Watching Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale last week tell the royal commission into institutionalised responses to sexual abuse that his crimes were a consequence of a disease, brought back the dark memories. It was nauseating. Like Weston, Ridsdale wasn’t a victim of some disease. He was just another bad bastard misusing power for no other reason than personal gratification. So while it was important to hear from Ridsdale, he should never have been allowed to assume victimhood and should have been rebuked when he did.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Peter Saunders, the man who wants to bring Cardinal George Pell to justice

AUSTRALIA
Brisbane Times

[with video]

June 1, 2015

Lisa Visentin

It’s no secret that Cardinal George Pell has come under sustained criticism in recent years as damning allegations of systemic cover-ups by the Catholic Church have surfaced during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

But until this week, his detractors have been largely Australian and the public censure cauterised at a domestic level. This has been the case even as he ascended to the upper echelons of the Vatican after taking up a coveted role managing the Holy See’s finances in February last year.

Enter Peter Saunders, a British child abuse survivor and the man hand-picked by Pope Francis to advise the church on child protection policies. Last year, he joined the nine-member commission, called the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established by the Pope to address the scourge of sex abuse within the church and which reports directly to him.

On Sunday, he became a powerful voice in the growing crescendo demanding Cardinal Pell be called to account for his role as a senior member of Australia’s Catholic clergy during the decades from which countless claims of abuse have emerged.

Mr Saunders’ comments come as questions have intensified over whether Cardinal Pell had supported notorious paedophile priests, including Gerald Ridsdale, instead of protecting victims and their families. He has repeatedly denied these accusations.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

George Pell denies he is ‘dangerous’

AUSTRALIA
The Australian Women’s Weekly

Cardinal George Pell has been called a “dangerous individual” and “almost sociopathic” by Peter Saunders, who was recently appointed by Pope Francis to protect minors in the catholic church.

And now a spokesperson for Cardinal Pell has said Australia’s most senior catholic cardinal will seek legal advice over Saunders’ statements.

“The false and misleading claims made against His Eminence are outrageous. The the Cardinal is left no alternative but to consult with his legal advisers,” said a statement issued on his behalf.

“Cardinal Pell has never met Mr Saunders, who seems to have formed his strong opinions without ever having spoken to His Eminence.”

“From his earliest actions as an archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated.”

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George Pell’s heavy-handed comments ignore the pain of abuse victims

AUSTRALIA
WA Today

June 1, 2015

Steve Dow

Cardinal George Pell should stop making threats and make good on his promise to return home and appear before the royal commission.

Cardinal George Pell’s deep bass tone has taken an ugly, threatening turn. His thinly veiled threat to sool the lawyers on Peter Saunders for the abuse survivor’s 60 Minutes interview shows a Catholic Church deeply disconnected from public opinion that demands free speech be heard and children be protected.

Saunders, founder of a British charity for abuse victims and handpicked by Pope Francis to sit on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told the Channel Nine program that Pell was a “massive thorn” to the papacy and should be moved aside: “He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care.”

This internecine Vatican volley of words may well be defamatory, but how pathetic that the cardinal cannot see beyond his own bruised ego. Pell’s spokesman fired back that Saunders has never met Pell, the former Melbourne and Sydney archbishop: “The false and misleading claims made against his eminence are outrageous … there is no excuse for broadcasting incorrect and prejudicial material.”

His imperious “eminence” should drop the lawyerly threats, then put all his thinking into planning for the appearance he finally last week promised, to return home and make if requested by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We need to know what he has to say, for instance, about the allegations of abuse in Ballarat, and whether he was complicit in moving Australia’s worst paedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, to another parish.

Here’s my tip: when he finally does appear before the royal commission, he will obfuscate and protect his and the church’s own naked self-interest. Way back in late 2002, I sat down with Pell in his office near Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral. He was by this time Archbishop of Sydney, having moved up from Melbourne.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Vatican-based Australian cardinal under attack

AUSTRALIA
Radio New Zealand

The allegations came from Peter Saunders, a member of the Vatican’s own commission on child protection.

Mr Saunders told Australian media the cardinal was a “massive thorn” in the side of the papacy.

Cardinal Pell has offered to testify in a major Australian inquiry into institutional child sex abuse.

He is accused of silencing a victim of a paedophile priest and aiding the priest’s move to another parish.

Mr Saunders, who was appointed by Pope Francis last year to the new commission to protect children, on Sunday said Cardinal Pell – the most senior Australian Catholic cardinal – had a “catalogue of denial” about child abuse in the church.

Mr Saunders told Channel Nine TV the cardinal should be sent back to Australia.

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Cardinal George Pell formally asked to appear at Royal Commission

AUSTRALIA
Herald Sun

[with video]

SHANNON DEERY HERALD SUN JUNE 01, 2015

CARDINAL George Pell will be asked to appear at the Royal Commission later this year.

Pressure has been building on the commission to formally request the Cardinal’s appearance at the second stage of the Ballarat hearings.

Because he lives at the Vatican, as an adviser to Pope Francis, he cannot be summonsed.

But in a statement today the Royal Commission said they had formally asked Dr Pell to appear.

He has reiterated his willingness to cooperate with the commission on several occasions.

The appearance will be his third during the commission’s hearings.

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Royal commission into child sexual abuse will call Cardinal George Pell to second Ballarat hearing

AUSTRALIA
ABC News

Cardinal George Pell will be called to the royal commission into child sexual abuse’s second hearings in Ballarat, the commission has said.

Cardinal Pell wrote to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on May 21 saying he was willing to appear before the inquiry.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the commission said that he would be called to appear when the inquiry meets again in Ballarat, later this year.

“In the ordinary course, witnesses are summonsed to appear at a hearing,” the royal commission said in a statement.

“However a person resident overseas cannot be summonsed.

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George Pell to be called to second royal commission hearings in Ballarat

AUSTRALIA
The Guardian

Melissa Davey
@MelissaLDavey

Monday 1 June 2015

Cardinal George Pell has been asked to give evidence to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse at its second hearings in Ballarat later this year.

On Monday afternoon, a commission spokeswoman said a person living overseas could not be summonsed by the commission to appear.

However, the commission had received a letter from Pell indicating that he was prepared to come to Australia to give evidence, the spokeswoman said.

“The royal commission will ask him to give evidence in the second of the Ballarat hearings,” she said.

Pell has repeatedly denied allegations of covering up abuse and has said he has always cooperated fully with the royal commission.

The announcement follows a call by child sexual abuse victim Peter Saunders for Cardinal George Pell to be removed.

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The government is a bigger obstacle to justice for victims than George Pell

AUSTRALIA
The Guardian

Adam Brereton

Cardinal George Pell has said he’ll return to Australia to give evidence at the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, if he is required to do so. The recent revelations from Ballarat are so horrifying as to beggar belief and I expect he will honour the commission’s request for him to appear later this year. We naturally want to know the full extent of the cardinal’s knowledge about the paedophile priest Gerald Risdale. And justice – natural, and divine – demands Pell give the commission and the public the full story.

Yet whether we like it or not, the royal commission is not a court conducting a criminal trial. Nor is it an inquiry into George Pell. Whether you conceive of the Cardinal as the Great Satan or a priest ahead of his time in dealing with child abuse (a view that is still prevalent among Catholics), litigating his personality on 60 Minutes or through Gerard Henderson’s nuggets of pedantry in the Australian does little to deliver justice for victims.

Of course, when the powerful refuse to humble themselves, stripping them of their mystique is a kind of justice in and of itself. Yet the cardinal’s reputation can hardly fall more in the eyes of the Australian public and among some sections of the church.

As an observer of the commission and as a Christian, what I want to see is an acknowledgement that the situation has begun to change. Two years into the commission’s work, will anyone admit Pell is no longer the biggest obstacle to justice for victims? The reluctance to do so is pervasive on either side of the divide: the cardinal’s defenders barely know how to do anything else but fight rearguard actions; and his critics want to see Pell caught out in a lie, or a smoking gun document produced.

Yet the commission is already beginning to move forward, recommending a federal redress scheme, funded with co-operation from the states and organisations in which abuse has taken place. Mediation, restorative justice, apologies from those in positions of power and ongoing financial and counselling support for victims are at its core; it is in line with what victims have told the commission they want and represents best practice in alternative dispute resolution and the like. The final report on this and related matters is weeks away.

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Vatican commissioner: Cardinal has ‘sociopathic lack of care’ for abused children

AUSTRALIA
Hindustand Times

Reuters

The Catholic Church’s commissioner for the protection of children has described the Vatican’s finance chief as having an almost sociopathic disregard for abused children, accusations that the Australian cardinal rejected as wrong and misleading.

Pope Francis’s newly appointed child abuse commissioner, Peter Saunders, said on Australian television that the Vatican’s prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy, Australian-born Cardinal George Pell, should be dismissed over allegations that he failed to take action to protect children from abuse at the hands of clergymen in Australia.

“He is making a mockery of the papal commission (into child abuse), of the Pope himself, but most of all of the victims and the survivors,” Saunders said on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday.

“He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, and an almost sociopathic lack of care,” said Saunders, himself a British victim of sexual abuse as a minor.

He said Pell should be “moved aside” and sent back to Australia to address a separate Australian abuse inquiry, which confirmed on Monday that it would ask Pell to testify. No date, however, has been set, nor is it currently clear wether the cardinal would have to testify in person.

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George Pell to be called to give evidence at royal commission

AUSTRALIA
Sydney Morning Herald

June 1, 2015

Jane Lee

Cardinal George Pell will be asked to give evidence at the second royal commission into child sexual abuse in Ballarat later this year.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made the announcement on Monday afternoon. Commission chair, Justice Peter McClellan, had received Cardinal Pell’s letter, which indicated that he was prepared to come to Australia to give evidence if required.

“The royal commission will ask him to give evidence in the second of the Ballarat hearings,” said the statement.

The first Ballarat hearing, which focused on survivors and the impact of child sexual abuse on the community, ended on Friday. The date for the second Ballarat hearing has not yet been fixed.

The commission said it would ordinarily summon witnesses to appear. “However a person resident overseas cannot be summonsed,” the statement said.

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Pell asked to appear before commission

AUSTRALIA
Sky News

The Catholic Church of Melbourne is urging Australians to give George Pell a fair go, saying the cardinal has worked hard to rid the church of the evil of clergy sexual abuse.

Following damning criticism of Cardinal Pell in the wake of the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in Ballarat, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has responded with a statement urging people to hold off from making hasty judgments.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said today he hopes all Australians who believe in a fair go will give Cardinal Pell the opportunity to answer the criticisms that have been raised in both the Royal Commission and the media before drawing any final conclusions. In a statement on Monday the royal commission said international residents could not be summonsed to appear at a hearing.

But because Cardinal Pell has expressed his intention to fully co-operate with the investigations they would ask him to give evidence.

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Vatican finance chief summoned to Australia child abuse inquiry

AUSTRALIA
Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey)

AFP

Vatican finance chief George Pell was called June 1 to give evidence at an inquiry into sex abuse as one of Pope Francis’ commissioners for the protection of children accused him of being “almost sociopathic”.

Formerly the top Catholic cleric in Australia, Cardinal Pell has become embroiled in the probe in his homeland which last week heard evidence from paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, who abused at least 50 boys over two decades.

Pell, who accompanied Ridsdale to court in 1993 when he admitted widespread abuse, has repeatedly denied knowing about any of the offences, helping move the priest to another parish or that he tried to bribe a victim to keep him quiet.

That victim was his nephew, David Ridsdale, who alleged he confided in family friend Pell about the assaults and that he was asked by him what it would cost to buy his silence.

Other victims had demanded Pell, who was appointed by Pope Francis in February 2014 to make the Vatican’s finances more transparent, return to give evidence to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

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Vatican Finance Chief George Pell Seeks Legal Advice After Harsh Words From Vatican Commission Member

AUSTRALIA
International Business Times

By Kukil Bora

The Vatican’s finance chief George Pell called for his lawyers Monday after a specially-appointed member of the church’s commission on child protection accused him of being “almost sociopathic,” and said that his position was “untenable.” Pell, the former top Catholic cleric in Australia, allegedly aided a pedophile priest and bribed one of his victims to keep quiet.

The allegations came from Peter Saunders, who was appointed by Pope Francis six months ago to be one of the members of the Vatican’s commission on child protection. Saunders said that Pell, who accompanied Gerald Ridsdale to court in 1993 when the latter admitted to widespread child abuse, was a “massive thorn” in the side of the papacy, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

“He [Pell] has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care,” Saunders said, according to ABC, adding: “Given the position of George Pell as a cardinal of the church and a position of huge authority within the Vatican, I think he is a massive, massive thorn in the side of Pope Francis’s papacy if he’s allowed to remain.”

However, a spokesperson for Pell said Monday that Saunders’ claims were “false and misleading,” and accused him of making strong statements without first speaking to the Pope.

“From his earliest actions as an archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated,” the spokesperson said in a statement, according to ABC.

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Cardinal George Pell WILL have to give evidence at royal commission …/a>

AUSTRALIA
Daily Mail

Cardinal George Pell WILL have to give evidence at royal commission into horrific child abuse in Victoria

Cardinal George Pell will be asked to give evidence at the royal commission into child sex abuse in the second of the Ballarat hearings.

Cardinal Pell wrote to the Royal Commission last month saying he was willing to appear before the inquiry in Australia.

In a statement on Monday the royal commission said international residents could not be summonsed to appear at a hearing.

But because Cardinal Pell has expressed his intention to fully co-operate with the investigations they would ask him to give evidence.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.