Royal commission finds Pell ‘conscious’ of priests abusing children in early ’70s

George Pell testimony implausible

Title: Royal commission finds Pell ‘conscious’ of priests abusing children in early ’70s

Author: Paul Sakkal

Publisher: The Age

Date: 07MAY2020

Cardinal George Pell was “conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy” as early as 1973 and failed to act on complaints about priests, according to royal commission findings released for the first time.

The child abuse royal commission also rejected Cardinal Pell’s evidence that he was deceived and lied to by Catholic Church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, and Melbourne parish priest Peter Searson.

The findings made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse in December 2017 were redacted to avoid prejudicing the trial of Cardinal Pell, who was then charged with child sexual abuse.

Cardinal Pell was convicted in February 2019 and then acquitted last month, paving the way for the release of the redacted sections of the reports, which were tabled in the Senate on Thursday morning.

The cardinal gave evidence to the royal commission twice: once from Sydney in 2014, and a second time from Rome in 2016.

He told the royal commission in 2016 he was deceived about paedophile priests in “a world of crimes and cover-ups” and did not know about the abuse.

But the commission found that was “implausible”; that abuse was on Cardinal Pell’s radar in 1973; and that it “ought to have been obvious” to him during the late 1980s that children were being abused by priests.

What Cardinal Pell knew about Gerald Ridsdale

During his time as a priest in Ballarat, Cardinal Pell was aware fellow priest Gerald Ridsdale was taking boys on overnight camps.

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