Pell’s pledge

By Melissa Cunningham
Western Advocate
November 02, 2016

Cardinal Pell speaks after meeting with Ballarat survivors in Rome earlier this year. Photo Melissa Cunningham

Clergy sexual abuse victims have called on Cardinal George Pell to reaffirm a commitment he made to help those wounded by the scourge of sexual abuse in Ballarat. 

Peter Blenkiron said Cardinal Pell had a moral obligation to stand by the promises he made to survivors in his hometown of Ballarat in the final act of his appearance at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Rome in March.

“Cardinal Pell either knew about the abuse of children did nothing and therefore has a responsibility to fix the damage,” he said. 

“Or he knew nothing but still has a responsibility to protect future generations of children and be a part of the solution and not just part of the cause of the problem which allowed paedophiles to flourish.” 

His words in comes in the wake of the counsel assisting the child abuse royal commission, rejecting key evidence and accusing the Cardinal of failing to act on sexual misconduct complaints. 

Mr Blenkiron was abused by disgraced paedophile Christian Brother Edward Dowlan when he was 11. 

In their final submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse released on Monday, the counsel assisting the inquiry found Cardinal Pell was told of disgraced paedophile Christian Brother Edward Dowlan’s sexual misconduct with children by at least one student and two priests as early as 1973. 

 Cardinal Pell served as the Episcopal Vicar of Education in the Ballarat diocese from 1973 to 1984. 

“As the former Episcopal Vicar of Education of Ballarat George Pell has a duty to help sort out what needs to be happen across schools in Ballarat to protect future children,” he said. 

“But he also must support people still struggling and commit to working with the wider to community to stop the premature deaths and suicides linked to sexual abuse regardless of the outcome of the commission.”

The cardinal pledge to help the Ballarat community came after a meeting he held with survivors who had travelled to Rome to bear witness to his evidence to the child abuse inquiry. 

"One suicide is too many, and there have been many such tragic suicides," the cardinal said at the time. "I commit myself to working … to try to stop this so that suicide is not seen as an option for those who are suffering.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Cardinal Pell‘s office said he remained committed to the promises he made at the meeting with a group of Ballarat survivors in Rome.

“He is keen to support proposals that will help and which have the support of survivors,” the statement read. 

“He welcomed the commitment of Australian Catholic University announced earlier this year to assist with the establishment of new support programs, and will continue to do everything he can to to support survivors in Ballarat and to help make connections with others who are committed to this crucial work.”


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