By RACHEL BROWN.
They had hoped the Cardinal would visit the Victorian city of Ballarat, a site of clerical abuse in the 1960s and ’70s, but a heart condition has prevented him leaving the Vatican.
For some, travelling 16,000 kilometres to watch what will be broadcast to Australia via video-link is about taking some power back.
Others feel it will be harder for the Cardinal to fudge facts if victims are staring him in the eye when he faces the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Especially David Ridsdale, who told the royal commission he phoned Cardinal Pell in 1993 to tell him that his uncle Gerald Ridsdale was abusing him, but that the priest tried to silence him
“What we’re hoping for is the same we’ve given, which is just truth,” Mr Ridsdale said.
“I guess it will with a part of the story, because it was the phone call I made to Cardinal Pell which set my trajectory on this very public path I’ve found myself, which was never my intention and something that was very difficult for me to have come to grips with.
“But there’s a bigger picture, we’ve seen in the media people accusing it of a witch hunt of Cardinal Pell and it’s not, it’s a truth hunt.”
A campaign to crowd-fund the Rome trip, with help from proceeds of a charity song by Tim Minchin, tripled its target in just two days. It stands at more than $200,000.
Survivors ‘prepare for the worst and hope for the best’
Four victims have already left, and 10 more fly out today, along with a support team of psychiatric counsellors and a doctor.
The victims themselves do not know how they will react, admitted Peter Blenkiron, who was abused by a Christian brother when he was 11 years old.
“Walking into Catholic central is going to be very triggering for a lot of us. That’s why we’ve got a lot of support staff coming,” he said.
He said part of the healing was the reshift of power.
“Let’s hope George puts his hands up and says, ‘we’ve got this wrong, what do we need to do, how can we keep children safe tomorrow, and those who were affected in the past, well today’,” he said.