May 7, 2020
By Rod McGuirk
Australian Cardinal George Pell knew that a notorious pedophile priest had been sexually abusing children years before his arrest and had been aware of the Catholic Church’s clergy abuse problem since the early 1970s, a government inquiry concluded.
A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pell — who was formerly Pope Francis’ finance minister and at one time the third-highest ranking cleric in the Vatican — had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.
The government decided to release the full report after the High Court last month overturned convictions against Pell on charges he molested two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in the late 1990s when he was an archbishop. The 78-year-old cleric spent 13 months in prison before being released last month.
The findings undermine Pell’s criticisms of what he described as the church’s inadequate response to the global abuse crisis and concealing its extent.
Pell, who now lives in a Sydney seminary, said in a statement that he was “surprised by some of the views” of the inquiry about his actions.
“These views are not supported by evidence,” Pell said.
The inquiry rejected Pell’s evidence given by video link from Rome in 2016 that he was deceived and lied to by church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, and disturbed Melbourne parish priest Peter Searson.
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