Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Australian Catholic, has been too ill to travel to Australia from the safety of the Vatican to give evidence to a Royal Inquiry into child sexual abuse. Instead, giving evidence via video link, Pell indicated that he wasn’t much interested in the abuse of children and was party to a meeting in 1982 where all participants knew priest Gerald Ridsdale had been sexually molesting children yet elected to move him to another parish, for the sixth time.
Pell was an advisor on the movement of priests and the abuse by Ridsdale was common knowledge as he had been abusing children since the 1960s. Pell and Ridsdale lived together in 1973. Despite this and the fact that by 1982 Ridsdale was know for abusing children in the East Ballarat parish and that Pell was an advisor recommending that Ridsdale be moved yet again, Pell claims he had no idea, nor any interest in the rumours or sexual abuse of children in their care.
Suggestion has been made that at the time, confronting and reporting child abuse was not as compelling as it is today, yet Pell’s cousin, Father Henry Nolan, who
…was vicar general at the time, took action immediately upon realising a 14-year-old boy was being made to sleep in the same room as notorious pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale.
Nolan demanded the child be removed, Furness said, despite not having direct authority over the Mortlake parish.
Furness: “That is an example, isn’t it, of a priest who didn’t have structural responsibility of taking a responsible course of action and having the child removed?”
Pell: “He was vicar general at that stage but what he did was excellent.
Furness: “What he did was available to any priest, I suggest to you, to demand action be taken to protect children.”