Peter Saunders on the George Pell charges

ABC – 7.30

[with video]


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Peter Saunders is a member of the Papal Child Abuse Commission. It advises the Catholic Church on how to better deal with abuse allegations and victims.

To give us a bit more context about this issue within the church and the significance of the Pell charges, Peter Saunders joined me from London.

Peter Saunders, a priest being charged with sexual offences is nothing unique. Why is this case making such an impact?

PETER SAUNDERS, VICTIM ADVOCATE: I think this is a massive story because there has certainly has never been anybody of the seniority and the position within the Vatican having been charged before, so this is huge and unlike many other places around the world where there have been accusations against very senior clerics, but the power of the church, sometimes the local or the corruption of local politicians and, of course, the power of money, has resulted in clerics not actually being charged, which is an outrage and I can give examples, but I think credit to Australia and to the Victoria Police for doing their job.

LEIGH SALES: You said that this is the first time somebody of this seniority has been charged. Do you mean with sexual assault offences or have there been other cases that involve say criminal charges in other matters?

PETER SAUNDERS: I am not aware of any cardinals, certainly any cardinals with positions within the hierarchy of the Vatican having ever been charged with any kind of crime in the past, so I think this is a unique occurrence.

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