Cardinal George Pell Knew of Clergy Sex Abuse, Australian Report Finds

New York Times

May 7, 2020

By Livia Albeck-Ripka

The cardinal, whose sexual abuse conviction was overturned last month, knew decades ago that priests had victimized children but failed to take action, a government inquiry concluded.

Melbourne, Australia – Cardinal George Pell, the Australian prelate whose sexual abuse conviction was overturned last month, knew decades ago that other Roman Catholic priests had sexually abused children but failed to take action, an Australian government inquiry found.

That conclusion was reached in 2017 by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which issued a lengthy report on the victimization of children within the Catholic Church and other institutions in Australia. But its findings about Cardinal Pell were redacted from the original report to avoid prejudicing potential jurors in the cardinal’s pending trials on sexual abuse charges.

Cardinal Pell, who had been the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was found guilty in 2018 of sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996, making him the highest-ranking Catholic leader to be convicted of a crime in the church’s sexual abuse crisis. But Australia’s highest court overturned the conviction last month, saying that there was “a significant possibility” that he was not guilty.

That decision cleared the way for the release of the Royal Commission’s findings about Cardinal Pell from its 2017 report, which were made public on Thursday.

The commission found that the cardinal had been “conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy” as long ago as the 1970s, when he was a priest in the diocese of Ballarat, and that he had failed to report priests who were suspected of abuse.

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