Royal commission into child sexual abuse will call Cardinal George Pell to second Ballarat hearing

ABC News
June 1, 2015

Cardinal George Pell has been called to appear when the royal commission meets again in Ballarat.

Cardinal George Pell will be called to the royal commission into child sexual abuse's second hearings in Ballarat, the commission has said.

Cardinal Pell wrote to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on May 21 saying he was willing to appear before the inquiry.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the commission said that he would be called to appear when the inquiry meets again in Ballarat, later this year.

"In the ordinary course, witnesses are summonsed to appear at a hearing," the royal commission said in a statement.

"However a person resident overseas cannot be summonsed.

"The chair has received a letter from Cardinal Pell indicating that he is prepared to come to Australia to give evidence.

"The royal commission will ask him to give evidence in the second of the Ballarat hearings."

Abuse victims call on Pell to appear

The royal commission, which sat in Ballarat for two weeks from May 19, heard damning evidence against Cardinal Pell's responses to child abuse in the area.

Cardinal Pell was an assistant priest in Ballarat East from 1973 to 1983, before becoming Archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney.

He now oversees the Vatican's finances.

David Ridsdale, the nephew of paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, told the commission Cardinal Pell tried to bribe him to stay quiet about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle.

"George ... began to talk about my growing family and my need to take care of their needs. He mentioned how I would soon have to buy a car or house for my family," he said.

"I remember with clarity the last three lines we spoke together."

"Me: Excuse me, George, what the fuck are you talking about?

"George: I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.

"Me: Fuck you, George, and everything you stand for."

Mr Ridsdale said after he rejected the offer, he hung up.

Another survivor, Timothy Green, told the commission that Cardinal Pell was dismissive when he reported that Brother Edward Dowlan was abusing boys at St Patricks College in Ballarat.

"He said 'don't be ridiculous'," Mr Green told the hearing.

"Father Pell didn't ask any questions, he didn't ask 'what do you mean?' or 'how could you say that?'

"He just dismissed it and walked out. His reaction gave me the impression that he knew about Brother Dowlan, but couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it."

Pell 'willing to give evidence'

Cardinal Pell issued a statement denying both allegations, as well as allegations he had been complicit in moving Gerald Ridsdale from Mortlake Parish, where evidence was heard his predatory behaviour was well known.

"I have been accused of being complicit in the moving of a known paedophile, of ignoring a victim's complaint, and of bribery," Cardinal Pell said in the statement.

"These matters again require an immediate response and it is important to correct the record particularly given the false and misleading headlines."

Abuse victims have called on Cardinal Pell to give evidence to the inquiry to answer questions about the Catholic Church's response to the abuse.

Last week, Cardinal Pell issued a statement saying he would appear before the Ballarat if he was asked to do so.

"Without wanting to pre-empt the royal commission in any way - you can't just invite yourself to give evidence," he said in a statement.

"I want to make it absolutely clear that I am willing to give evidence should the commission request this, be it by statement, appearance by video link, or by attending personally.

"So far I have not been asked to give evidence in any form, but as I have said repeatedly, I am deeply committed to assisting the royal commission and to doing anything I can to help survivors.

"This includes giving evidence in person, if asked to do so."


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