‘Callous, cold-hearted’: Pope’s commissioner says George Pell has to go
‘Callous, cold-hearted’: Pope’s commissioner says George Pell has to go
CARDINAL George Pell has been condemned over his treatment of abuse victims by the man hand-picked by the Pope to protect children in the Catholic Church.
In an extraordinary attack aired on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, Peter Saunders said the cardinal had acted with “callousness” and “cold-heartedness”.
Pope Francis’s specially appointed commissioner for the protection of children added:“I think it’s critical that he is moved aside — that he is sent back to Australia and that the Pope takes the strongest action against him.”
A spokesperson for Cardinal Pell has since responded to the report.
“Cardinal Pell has been informed of the contents of the 60 Minutes program this evening. The false and misleading claims made against His Eminence are outrageous,” the statement reads.
“From his earliest actions as an Archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated.
“Cardinal Pell has never met Mr Saunders, who seems to have formed his strong opinions without ever having spoken to His Eminence.
“In light of all the available material, including evidence from the Cardinal under oath, there is no excuse for broadcasting incorrect and prejudicial material.
“In the circumstances, the Cardinal is left no alternative but to consult with his legal advisers.”
In the past fortnight, the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse heard damning evidence in Ballarat against Father Gerald Ridsdale, Australia’s worst paedophile priest. Witnesses accused Pell of ignoring warnings about Ridsdale, and one claims Pell tried to silence him with a bribe, an allegation he has previously denied.
The Commission also heard that Pell attended a meeting where it was decided that Ridsdale needed to be moved to another parish, and did not question the move.
Ridsdale was moved nine times within Victoria.
The Catholic Church has a history of moving paedophile priests instead of taking action against them.
“I’ve been to Australia and I’ve heard from people who have suffered directly,” said Saunders, who is himself a victim of paedophile priests.
“I think he is somebody who, understandably, victim survivors will have a huge, huge issue with.”
Saunders, who joined the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors six months ago, said Pell had “a moral responsibility” to face the Royal Commission, “to allay the fears that many victims and survivors feel, which is that he is avoiding facing some very, very difficult truths, which is his past behaviour.”
Pell has said he has not been asked to meet the Royal Commission following the latest claims and that he fully supports its work. As head of Vatican finances, he is thought to be the second-most powerful man in the Catholic Church.
A spokesperson for Pell said he had not seen the material prior to 60 Minutes’ broadcast, and that he had not met nor been approached by Mr Saunders.
David Ridsdale told the Royal Commission 13 years ago that when he turned to Pell after being abused by his uncle, Father Gerald Ridsdale, Pell said: “I want to know what it would take to keep you quiet.”
The cardinal then still chose to publicly support Ridsdale by accompanying him to court when he was charged with abusing a number of other boys, which he now concedes might have been “offensive.”
Saunders said: “To me, it’s absolutely outrageous, and it demonstrates once again the callousness, the cold-heartedness and the contempt that George Pell appears to display for this whole issue and particularly, for the victims of these dreadful crimes.”
In 2002, Anthony and Chrissie Foster said they had approached Pell, then-Archbishop of Melbourne, about the repeated sexual abuse of their daughters’ Emma and Katie by their school priest. Emma later took her own life.
The couple showed Pell a photo of Emma on her confirmation day and one after she had self-harmed, and he reportedly said: “She’s changed, hasn’t she?”
Pell denied having seen the photo in 2002, but in 2013 he said he probably had, and simply hadn’t had “a chance for a considered response”.
“Those photographs, they are not something that you would forget,” said Saunders, calling Pell a “massive thorn in the side” of the Pope.
“He is making a mockery of the Papal Commission, of the Pope himself, but most of all, of the victims and the survivors.
“Anybody who is a serious obstacle to the work of the Commission and to the work of the Pope in trying to clean up the Church’s act over this matter, I think they need to be taken aside very, very quickly and removed from any kind of position of influence.
“Our direction cannot include cover-ups and allowing children to be abused”.
In a statement provided before the program aired, a spokesperson for Cardinal Pell said: “Cardinal Pell knows of the important work Mr Saunders has done as a survivor of abuse to assist victims, including the establishment of a victims survivors group in the United Kingdom and more recently serving as member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors established by the Holy Father to develop policy to achieve this.
“While members are of course entitled to their views and opinions, the recently approved Statutes of the Commission make it clear that the Commission’s role does not include commenting on individual cases, nor does the Commission have the capacity to investigate individual cases.
“Many of the issues were addressed in the final report of the 2013 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry where there are no adverse findings against Cardinal Pell. These old and repeated allegations have been addressed many times by the Cardinal since 2002.
“As was pointed out in a recent statement by the Cardinal, he has never condoned or protected offenders, has never condoned or participated in moving known offenders and did not at any time attempt to bribe David Ridsdale, whose story has varied many times over the years.
“It is not clear whether Mr Saunders is aware of the Cardinal’s statements or has reviewed the extensive material available from previous Inquiries and appearances at the Royal Commission.
“It is also not clear if Mr Saunders is aware Cardinal Pell established within 100 days of being appointed as an Archbishop, an independent scheme to support victims. While there was and is always room for improvement, the Melbourne Response had the explicit support of the Victorian Police and other civil authorities and was at the time warmly welcomed by victim support groups.
“The Cardinal has repeated many times his deepest sympathy for the victims of abuse and their families. He has made it clear on several occasions he supports the work of the Royal Commission, where he has already appeared twice, and remains willing to assist in its work.”
Posted on June 2, 2015, in Archdiocese of Melbourne, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Pell, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Father Gerald Ridsdale, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse and tagged Archdiocese of Melbourne, Bill Donohue, Bill Donohue. William A Donohue. William Donohue. Catholic League, Cardinal George Pell, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, child abuse, child molestation, child rape, child rapists, child sex abuse, clergy abuse, crimes against children, Father Gerald Ridsdale, Peter Saunders, Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, priest abuse, priest pedophilles, priest rape, priest sex abuse, religion, roman catholic church, Roman Catholic Church Child Rape Scandal, Roman Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse, Roman Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse Scandal, Roman Catholic Church Pedophile Cover up Scandal, Roman Catholic Church Pedophile Coverup Scandal, Roman Catholic Church Pedophile Scandal, Roman Catholic Church Pedophiles, Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, roman catholic church sex scandal, roman catholic clergy, roman catholics, The Catholic Church has a history of moving paedophile priests instead of taking action against them, The Vatican. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.