Many people would like to see Cardinal George Pell give evidence in person to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse at the hearing in Ballarat, says the Truth Justice and Healing Council. But...
"It has always been our preference that Cardinal Pell give his evidence in person but his medical condition means this cannot happen," the Council's CEO Francis Sullivan says.
"What is most important now is that the Commission hears his evidence in the most effective and timely way possible so that this case study can be finalised, that the Commission can make findings and that abuse survivors can, hopefully, move forward with their lives."
Sex abuse victims have exceeded their crowd-based fundraising target to travel to Rome to see Cardinal Pell give evidence to the Royal Commission but are still waiting for the Commission to decide if they will be allowed to attend.
The GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $125,000 by yesterday afternoon, surpassing its $55,000 goal for a group of survivors to travel to Italy later this month. Whether or not they go depends on the Rome venue being open to the public.
From Rome overnight, the Cardinal's office issued a statment (full text below). In it, he restates his willingness to give evidence.
It reads, in part: "The past few days has seen a great deal of incorrect information relating to Cardinal George Pell and his upcoming Royal Commission appearance.
"Cardinal Pell has always helped victims, listened to them and considered himself their ally. As an archbishop for almost twenty years he has led from the front to put an end to cover ups, to protect vulnerable people and to try to bring justice to victims."
The statment continued: "The Cardinal is anxious to present the facts without further delays. It is ultimately a matter for the Royal Commission to determine the precise arrangements for the provision of evidence by the Cardinal in Rome. The Cardinal will continue to co-operate with whatever arrangements the Royal Commission determines, so that he can be heard on the days and at the times recently set by the Commissioner."
The Commission is still making inquiries about venues in Rome for Cardinal Pell's evidence from February 29, which will cover the Church's handling of abuse in the Melbourne Archdiocese and Ballarat Diocese.