Cardinal George Pell has reiterated his willingness to assist the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, reports The Australian.
But he has stopped short of declaring whether he will fly to Australia to give evidence ahead of a directions hearing in Sydney today.
In December, Cardinal Pell postponed travelling to Melbourne to give evidence, after his lawyers produced documents from his doctors. He is now due to give evidence to a third public hearing into Church authorities in Ballarat, which begins on February 22.
The Cardinal did not travel from Rome to the US last week for a meeting of a philanthropic Catholic organisation in Miami, and spoke via video from Rome, increasing doubt over whether he would travel to Australia.
Communications director for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Katrina Lee, said she had no knowledge of the contents or nature of the documents Cardinal Pell’s lawyers would present at today’s directions hearing, where judge Peter McClellan will rule on his capacity to testify, and also that of the former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns.
“We will have to wait and see the decision by the chair, Justice Peter McClellan,” Ms Lee said.
“However, I am aware Cardinal Pell has reiterated his willingness to assist the commission, as he has done on two previous occasions, and is keen to give evidence as soon as possible to address outstanding issues raised in relation to him last year.
"Problems concerning the video link the last time Cardinal Pell gave evidence were, I understand, due to the Skype connection, which did not emanate from Rome.”
In December, Justice McClellan refused an application to hear Cardinal Pell’s evidence via video, citing “the complexity of the issues involved” and technical difficulties with previous attempts at video links.