Cardinal George Pell to give evidence to child abuse royal commission via video link from Rome.

By Michelle Brown

Cardinal George Pell will today give evidence to the child abuse royal commission via video link from Rome about the Catholic Church’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse.

His sister told waiting reporters Cardinal Pell had spent the day resting and praying ahead of his appearance.

Abuse survivors who travelled from Australia had an emotional visit to the Vatican area but did not go inside, saying they did not want to listen to the Pope’s Sunday address.

Speaking near the Vatican, survivor Dominic Ridsdale said he hoped their visit would help lift the “darkness” lingering over the town of Ballarat, where decades of abuse took place.

“We want the truth. We want to be able to save more lives from too many suicides in Ballarat,” he said.

“Hopefully by us being here it’ll lift a dark cloud off Ballarat, we don’t want anybody looking at it as a dark place.”

Up to 160 people could fill the room at the Quirinale Hotel when the hearing gets underway at 10:00pm in Rome (8:00am AEDT).

Cardinal Pell has been called to give evidence about two case studies — number 28 about the Diocese of Ballarat and number 35 about the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

The time frame for the case studies stretches from the 1960s through to the 1990s.

Case Study 28 deals with the response of the Christian Brothers in Victoria to allegations of child sexual abuse involving six brothers — all of whom spent time working at schools in the Diocese of Ballarat.

The inquiry has already heard about the impact of abuse on survivors and the knowledge the Bishop and priests of Ballarat had of allegations of church abuse.

Child abuse survivors from Australia arrive in Vatican City. (ABC News: Lisa Millar)

It has also heard about the practice of moving offending priests from one parish to another.


The royal commission has heard evidence from Gerald Ridsdale, a former Ballarat priest who has been convicted of some 138 offences against children, involving 53 victims.

His nephew David Ridsdale told the royal commission he phoned Cardinal Pell in 1993 to tell him that his uncle was abusing him, but that the priest tried to silence him.

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns had ultimate responsibility for the Diocese during much of the period of time being considered in Case Study 28.

For part of the time he was a priest in Ballarat, Cardinal Pell was one of the consultors to Bishop Mulkearns.

That involved giving advice to the Bishop on various matters, including the appointments of priests to particular parishes.

Cardinal Pell was a consultor at a time when some of the priests who have offended against children were serving in the Diocese.

Case study 35 deals with the response of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse — including during Cardinal Pell’s time as an Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne.

Cardinal Pell had responsibilities as an Auxiliary Bishop for areas of the Archdiocese where at least one offending priest was located.

He was a member of the Archbishop’s Personnel Advisory Board, and a member of the Curia — both bodies assisted on the placement of priests.

Feature image: AAP, Joe Castro. 

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

© 2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. Read the ABC Disclaimer here

00:00 / ???