By SARAH FARNSWORTH.
Cardinal George Pell was overheard in the 1980s discussing the sexual abuse of boys at the hands of convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale, a royal commission has been told.
The explosive allegations about what Australia’s most senior Catholic knew of abuse by priests in the Ballarat diocese before he became the Archbishop of Melbourne were aired at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
A man, referred to as BWE during the hearing, told the inquiry he overhead a conversation between Father Frank Madden and then-auxiliary priest George Pell at St Patricks Cathedral in 1983.
He said Father Madden asked: “How are things going down your way?”
He said Cardinal Pell replied: “I think Gerry has been rooting young boys again.”
The alleged reference was to Ridsdale, who served as a priest in Ballarat.
“This remark shocked me to the core. It rattled me. Because of everything I’d been told by my brothers about Gerald Ridsdale,” BWE told the inquiry.
He said the next year he told his mother.
“I told her that I more or less overheard George Pell confirm that Gerald Ridsdale was still having sex with young boys,” he said.
“She said to me, ‘don’t be ridiculous’.”