‘Why didn’t he help those little boys?’: how George Pell failed the children of Ballarat

The Guardian

May 8, 2020

By Melissa Davey

The cardinal maintains he didn’t know about the Victorian town’s notorious paedophile priests, a claim the royal commission found ‘implausible’

“Why isn’t all of Australia talking about what happened here in Ballarat?”

That’s the question Clare Linane remembers asking her husband, Peter Blenkiron, 12 years ago as they were sitting in the kitchen talking about his abuse. Linane’s husband, brother and cousin had all been abused when they were children between 1973 and 1974 by Christian Brother and now convicted paedophile Edward “Ted” Dowlan. They knew they were among thousands of people living in and around Ballarat – Victoria’s largest inland city – who had been affected by child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy.

On Thursday, Australia’s five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australian institutions published its findings about Ballarat in full, more than two years after its inquiry was complete. Previously, a heavily redacted version of the report had been published, missing details about Cardinal George Pell and what he knew about abuse in the town located about 100km north-west of Melbourne. At the time Pell was working in the diocese, Ballarat was home to some of the Catholic church’s, and Australia’s, most notorious paedophile priests. Survivor groups say at least 50 suicides in the town over the past few decades are the result of clergy abuse.

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