Cardinal Pell calls on state to decide damages

Claims treated sceptically

Cardinal Pell has told the Royal Commission that the government should set up an independent body to decide the payment of damages to child abuse victims. He also criticised senior Church clerics, staff and lawyers over their roles in an abuse case.

- The Sydney Morning Herald/The Australian

The SMH reports that he reiterated his belief that the Church should create a corporate legal entity that could be sued by victims and said abusive priests should be insured against being sued for sexual abuse. 

Under questioning from Royal Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan, Cardinal Pell said both the Church's Towards Healing protocol for dealing with sex abuse victims and the Melbourne Response that he set up in the 1990s failed to meet the Church's moral responsibility towards victims.

He said the attitude of some people in the Vatican in the 1990s was that accusations against priests 'were being made exclusively or at least predominantly by enemies of the Church to make trouble.'

Cardinal Pell admitted to multiple failings in his handling of the case of John Ellis, who was a 13-year-old altar boy when Fr Aidan Duggan of Bass Hill parish started sexually abusing him.

The Australian reports that in evidence to the Commission, Cardinal Pell described one Church employee as 'a muddler' whose handling of the original complaint against a Sydney priest was 'mistaken' and 'deficient.'

His former chancellor Brian Rayner was 'a good person' who found his job 'completely beyond him and he completely disintegrated,' the Cardinal said. His private secretary, Michael Casey, had previously given evidence to the Commission that was in part 'inaccurate', 'partly complete' or 'generally wrong,' he said.

Evidence given by all three men that Cardinal Pell would have been aware of the victim’s offer to settle his complaint for far less than the Church ultimately spent in court was also 'wrong,' he said.

FULL COVERAGE

Pell wants state to decide damages (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Cardinal George Pell blames church muddler (The Australian)

Cardinal Pell admits mistakes, misunderstandings, muddling in Ellis case (ABC)

George Pell: Vatican said enemies of the church made abuse allegations (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Cardinal George Pell faces angry protesters at abuse commission (The Sydney Morning Herald)

George Pell removed expression of regret from letter to abuse victim John Ellis (The Australian)

RELATED COVERAGE

‘We should’ve told cops, parents’: Archbishop Wilson (The Australian)

Adelaide archbishop says response to abuse claims too slow (Herald Sun)

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