Cardinal George Pell knew enough to conclude that more serious action should have been taken against a paedophile priest, according to counsel assisting the child sex abuse royal commission.
In their submission to the royal commission, published on Monday, counsel assisting Gail Furness SC and Stephen Free urged the commission to reject evidence from Australia’s highest ranking Catholic that he had been intentionally deceived about former Doveton priest Peter Searson.
Cardinal Pell, who testified to the commission in March via video link from Rome, said he was told about Searson’s bizarre behaviour in 1989, when he was an auxiliary bishop. But he said the reports of Searson abusing animals and going to the children’s toilets were not enough for him to act and that it was not his responsibility to investigate the priest.
He also said allegations against Searson had been kept from him by the Catholic Education Office, but claims of a cover up were denied by former Catholic officials who testified before the royal commission earlier this year.
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