Cardinal didn't have 'much interest' in claims about Ridsdale

Testimony from Rome

Cardinal George Pell faces the Royal Commission again today from Rome, after yesterday saying that he did not have "much interest" in complaints about paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale. "It's a sad story and it wasn't of much interest to me," he said.

- The Sydney Morning Herald

Cardinal Pell said that complaints about Ridsdale did not reach his ears as he was busy running the Institute of Catholic Education, which had 2000 students. 

"It's not a small job," he told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse related to Ballarat Diocese and Melbourne Archdiocese via video link from the Hotel Quirinale in Rome.  "I certainly wasn't plugged into life at the Diocese." 

The Royal Commission was told the then-Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, and other senior clergy, had received multiple complaints about Ridsdale, including that he was living with a 14-year-old boy while in Mortlake, Victoria, and had abused children across a number of parishes.

Royal Commission chairman, Justice Peter McClellan, asked Cardinal Pell: "Given the nature of the allegations and given the number of people that we can assume have knowledge of them, it might be surprising that you didn't hear any rumour at all?

Cardinal Pell responded: "Not necessarily, given the work I was doing."

The Cardinal then said he didn't have "much interest" in complaints about Ridsdale. "I didn't know whether it was common knowledge or whether it wasn't," he said. "It's a sad story and it wasn't of much interest to me."

When asked by Counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Gail Furness SC, why the Ridsdale allegations were not of interest, he replied: "The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evil that Ridsdale had perpetrated."

Cardinal Pell told the Commission he attended a 1982 meeting in his role as a consultor in which a proposal to promote Ridsdale from a Victorian parish to a more senior role in Sydney was discussed.

The commission heard there were seven senior clergy members at the meeting, three of whom knew of complaints against Ridsdale.

In his evidence, Cardinal Pell said he did not have a clear recollection of the meeting but could recall that pedophilia wasn't mentioned as the reason for relocating Ridsdale, now serving a prison sentence for multiple sexual offences against children spanning decades.

Justice McClellan asked: "Is it reasonable for us to assume that you were told (about Ridsdale)?"

"No, that's not my evidence," Cardinal Pell responded. "There was no reference to paedophilia."

TJH Council Update 101 Ballarat Day 23

COVERAGE

Cardinal George Pell blames former bishop for letting abuse fester (SMH)

Cardinal George Pell uninterested in Ridsdale sex claims, Royal Commission hears (SMH)

Teen living with priest: Cardinal Pell didn't know (Herald Sun)

Cardinal Pell warned on culpability (news.com.au)

Bishop's actions were reprehensible: Cardinal Pell (AAP/Nine News)

I have Pope's 'full backing' says abuse inquiry cardinal (AFP/Yahoo7) 

Father of abuse victims says he has given up hope Cardinal will help fix things (ABC)

RELATED STORY

Pennsylvania grand jury: two bishops hid sex abuse of hundreds of children (AP/Crux)

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