More Calls for Pell to Front Abuse Royal Commission

By Abby Dinham
May 21, 2015

Cardinal George Pell

There have been further calls for Cardinal George Pell to front the child sexual abuse Royal Commission.

There have been further calls for Cardinal George Pell to front the child sexual abuse Royal Commission hearings in Ballarat, as harrowing victim accounts continued to be heard.

However Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he believes Cardinal Pell is actively dealing with the issues.

Abby Dinham reports.

A life time of living with the scars of sexual abuse has taken its toll on Stephen Woods.

"They had entrusted their most precious things to the church... and the church abused them."

Raped and assaulted by three men in the Ballarat Catholic school system, Mr Woods wants answers from the town's former Catholic Vicar General for Education.

"George Pell should absolutely be here. He should have absolutely flown back before Ballarat started so he could answer problems he's left in his wake."

Cardinal George Pell, who now holds a senior position in The Vatican, was earlier accused of offering a bribe to a victim.

He's since released a statement.

It says: "At no time did I attempt to bribe David Ridsdale or his family or offer any financial inducements for him to be silent."

He also denied claims he played a part in relocating paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, stating: "I would never have condoned or participated in a decision to transfer Ridsdale in the knowledge that he had abused children."

Survivor groups dismissed the Cardinal's written reponse.

Nicky David heads the Australian branch of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

She says an emailed statement is not an adequate response to allegations given under oath.

"I think it's actually quite appalling Cardinal Pell thinks it's appropriate to issue a media release in response to sworn testimony from survivors at the Royal Commission. The only appropriate way to respond to sworn evidence is to give sworn evidence of his own."

The Prime Minister is adament his friend Cardinal Pell is acting appropriately.

He says it's up to the Cardinal to decide whether he should appear in Ballarat.

"That's ultimately a matter for him.//A moral obligation?// My understanding is his written statement has dealt with those issues."

But for victims of clergy abuse, only the Cardinal's presence in Ballarat will do.

Victim Paul Tatchell told the commission George Pell has a responsibility to the Ballarat victims.

"The buck has to stop somewhere and in Australia it's George Pell. He may not have the intestinal fortitude or the ability to see beyond his own vanity. But it's his ambition that got him there and it'll take his humility to get him out of there."

Meanwhile, Paul Tatchell describes himself as one of the lucky ones.

He says the abuse he suffered at the hands of the clergy didn't break him, but hardened his resolve to fight back.

Mr Tatchell told the commission of one incident at Monivae College in which another boy was physically assaulted.

"One night, I was in bed and the boy next to me in the dormitory was crying in the early hours of the morning. I pulled back the sheets and he was covered in blood. I asked him what had happened and he said Father O'Brien did it. I just kicked Father O'Brien's door in and laid into him."

The commission also heard the current Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, told an abuse survivor the church would endure the scandal.

Victim Andrew Collins had approached the bishop to discuss compensation for abuse survivors.

"He said Andrew you need to understand something, the church has endured for thousands of years, and in another 40 years or so you will all be dead and this will be forgotten about."

The testimony of convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale will begin next Wednesday.








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