Pell admits ‘enormous mistakes’ in church’s abuse handling, calls it ‘absolutely scandalous’

National Catholic Reporter

Joshua J. McElwee | Feb. 29, 2016

One of the Catholic church’s highest ranking cardinals, Vatican official George Pell, faced four hours of questioning about his role in the clergy sexual abuse crisis in his native Australia in an extraordinary overnight hearing Sunday, in which he admitted the church “has made enormous mistakes” in its handling of dangerous priests.

The cardinal, who has been among Pope Francis’ closest advisors in reforming the Vatican and now leads the city-state’s new centralized treasury department, also said that evidence of abuse brought forward by victims in past decades “were dismissed in absolutely scandalous circumstances.”

Pell, who formerly served as an auxiliary bishop and then archbishop of Melbourne and then archbishop of Sydney, was testifying via video-link from Rome in the hours between Sunday and Monday in a hearing taking place in his home country on the church’s historic response to clergy sexual abuse.

For the 270 minutes between 10:00 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. in Rome, Gail Furness, the lead counsel assisting Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, led Pell through years of the church’s response to sexual abuse, fact by fact.

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