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

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.

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