‘Dangerous’ Pell a thorn in Pope’s side
AUSTRALIA’S most senior Catholic cleric last night was branded a “dangerous man” who covered up child sexual abuse, in explosive claims by a senior Vatican adviser.
The shocking allegations against Cardinal George Pell, finance chief of the Holy See, were made on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes program during an interview with Peter Saunders – a man appointed by Pope Francis to bring justice to victims of church members’ abuse.
Mr Saunders, one of nine people on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, described 73-year-old Cardinal Pell as a “thorn in the side” of Pope Francis, who had “contempt” for sexual abuse victims and tried to keep them quiet.
As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hears shocking evidence from victims in Ballarat in Victoria, Mr Saunders also called on Cardinal Pell to return home to face the music.
“I believe that man has, at the very least, a moral responsibility to fly straight back and to tell the royal commission everything he knows,” Mr Saunders, himself a victim of child abuse at the hands of priests, said.
The royal commission has heard Cardinal Pell tried to silence abuse victim David Ridsdale with a bribe, allegedly asking him: “What would it take to keep you quiet?” when he came forward with claims about his uncle Gerald, a priest in Victoria. Pell denied this.
In 1993 Cardinal Pell accompanied Gerald Ridsdale to court when he was charged with sexual abuse of children.
“To me, it seems highly likely that George Pell knew (about Gerald Ridsdale’s behaviour), and if he knew, and if the Bishop knew, then these are people who should actually be facing criminal charges now, not just sanctions at the hands of the Pope or the Church or the attention of the media,” Mr Saunders said.
“These are people who have allegedly allowed the abuse of children to continue – sometimes for many years – and that is an unforgivable crime.”