Church response painful: abuse victim

Daily Mail
May 21, 2015

The buck stops with Cardinal George Pell when it comes to the Catholic Church taking responsibility for child sexual abuse by clergy, a victim has told the royal commission.

Cardinal Pell, the Vatican's finance chief, has again rejected claims he was told about pedophile priests in the Ballarat diocese.

Victim Paul Tatchell said responsibility had to be taken by someone in the Catholic Church in Australia, and it should be the former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop.

"The buck has to stop somewhere and in Australia it's George Pell," Mr Tatchell told the commission hearing in Ballarat.

"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 will take his humility to get him out of there.

"Time will tell if George can find an ounce of the courage, an ounce of the courage, you'll bear witness to throughout these proceedings.

"You cannot seek atonement when you're still in denial."

Victim Stephen Woods said he spoke out about his abuse by pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale and Christian Brothers Robert Charles Best and Edward Vernon Dowlan to expose the cover-up.

"I wanted to expose the horrific cover-up perpetrated by the senior members of the Catholic Church who I believe knew about Ridsdale, Best and Dowlan for many years but chose to do nothing about it."

Mr Woods told the commission the Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for the actions and the ongoing cover-ups of clergy and others who sexually abused children.

"There needs to be immediate and proper care of survivors to stop the premature deaths that are continuing to happen within the Ballarat diocese."

Cardinal Pell denied accusations he tried to bribe a victim to keep quiet, was complicit in moving Australia's worst pedophile priest Ridsdale between parishes and ignored a victim's complaint.

"It is important to correct the record, particularly given the false and misleading headlines," he said in a statement overnight, handed to the royal commission.

"The crimes committed against them by priests and brothers are profoundly evil and completely repugnant to me."

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan has made it clear that Cardinal Pell will be required to answer the serious allegations in a statement as it conducts its investigation.

Church lawyers say Cardinal Pell will willingly provide a statement once the commission requests it and now say they may recall one or more of the survivor witnesses for cross-examination.

The church has not been questioning any of the victims appearing before the Ballarat hearing, saying it doesn't want to add to their distress.

Lawyer and doctoral researcher Judy Courtin said Cardinal Pell should be appearing before the commission over what the church knew and how it responded to clergy abuse in Ballarat.

"He should be here facing the music really," Ms Courtin told AAP.

"The reality is you've got all these witnesses giving sworn evidence; they weren't cross-examined by the church.

"To simply issue a statement that can't be tested, I'm sorry, not only does it not work for the royal commission I think it's a sign of weakness."

A man abused by Christian Brothers in the 1940s also says Cardinal Pell should come home and face the music.

"He needs to come home, come clean and go to the royal commission," John Hennessy told AAP on Thursday.



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