George Pell denies he is 'dangerous'

The Australian Women's Weekly
June 1, 2015

Peter Saunders.

Cardinal George Pell has been called a “dangerous individual” and “almost sociopathic” by Peter Saunders, who was recently appointed by Pope Francis to protect minors in the catholic church.

And now a spokesperson for Cardinal Pell has said Australia’s most senior catholic cardinal will seek legal advice over Saunders' statements.

“The false and misleading claims made against His Eminence are outrageous. The the Cardinal is left no alternative but to consult with his legal advisers,” said a statement issued on his behalf.

“Cardinal Pell has never met Mr Saunders, who seems to have formed his strong opinions without ever having spoken to His Eminence.”

“From his earliest actions as an archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated.”

Saunders, a victim of a paedophile priest in Britain, appeared on 60 Minutes last night saying Cardinal Pell doesn't have any concern for victims of sexual abuse in the church.

“In all the interviews, in all I’ve read, in all I’ve heard I see not a shred of evidence that George Pell has any sympathy, empathy or any kind of understanding or concern for victims or survivors of these crimes.

“I personally think his position is untenable because he has now a catalogue of denials, he has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold heartedness, almost ... almost sociopathic I would go as so far as to say. This lack of care,” said Saunders on the program.

“Given the position of George Pell as a cardinal of the church and a position of huge authority within the Vatican I think he’s a massive thorn in the side of Pope Francis’ papacy if he’s allowed to remain. And I think it’s critical that he is moved aside, that he is sent back to Australia and that the Pope takes the strongest action against him.”

Saunders was handpicked by Pope Francis to head the newly created Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which aims to improve transparency and accountability around the problems of child sexual abuse in the church.

The issues made headlines again last week with Gerald Ridsdale, Australia’s worst paedophile priest giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Ballarat inquiry.

Cardinal George Pell was present at a meeting with Bishop Ronald Mulkearns where they discussed moving Ridsdale - who sexually abused children at all nine parishes he worked at - although Pell denies knowing Ridsdale abused children.

"I think it's inconceivable that they would not have known [why Ridsdale was being moved all the time]," said Saunders on the program last night.

"To me, it seems highly likely that George Pell knew, and if he knew, and if the bishop knew, then these are people who should actually be facing criminal charges now, not just sanctions at the hands of the Pope or the church or the attention of the media.”

Mr Ridsdale’s nephew, David Ridsdale claims he told Cardinal Pell in 1993 about the abuse from his uncle to which Pell allegedly responded “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”

Cardinal Pell denies bribing Mr Ridsdale and said in a statement last week “the crimes committed against [the victims] by priests and brothers are profoundly evil.”

Pell, who runs the Vatican's finances, has said he would cooperate with the royal commission and will fly back to Australia to give evidence if asked.



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