Pope's finance chief ready to appear at Australia child abuse inquiry

Vatican's finance chief George Pell said he has nothing to hide in connection with the paedofile priest Gerald Ridsdale case from the 1970s.
Australian-Cardinal-George-Pell-Prefect-of-the-Secretariat-for-the-Economy-of-the-Holy-See-arriving-to-attend-mass-for-Holy-Thursday-at-St-Peter-s-basilica-in-Vatican-AFP-Photo
Australian-Cardinal-George-Pell-Prefect-of-the-Secretariat-for-the-Economy-of-the-Holy-See-arriving-to-attend-mass-for-Holy-Thursday-at-St-Peter-s-basilica-in-Vatican-AFP-Photo
Updated on May 27, 2015 10:12 AM IST
Copy Link
AFP | By, Sydney

Pope Francis' finance chief said he was willing to give evidence at a child abuse inquiry in his native Australia, as the country's most notorious paedophile priest gave evidence on Wednesday.

Cardinal George Pell, formerly the top Catholic cleric in Australia and now a senior Vatican official, has been accused by a victim of trying to bribe him to keep quiet. He has also been accused of ignoring complaints and being complicit in moving the notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, who appeared at the hearing via videolink from jail.

Pell denied the claims in a statement last week, saying he was horrified by survivors' accounts of what they suffered at the hands of Ridsdale.

For over three decades, from 1950s to late 1980s, Ridsdale abused at least 50 boys as he was moved to different parishes across the state Victoria. Victims have demanded Pell, who was appointed by Pope Francis in February 2014 to make the Vatican's finances more transparent, return to give evidence in person and he said he was willing to do so.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was called after a decade of pressure to investigate wide-ranging allegations of paedophilia in Australia.

It has heard harrowing allegations of child abuse involving places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools. Pell previously gave evidence in March 2014.

"Without wanting to pre-empt the royal commission in any way, you can't just invite yourself to give evidence," Pell, who is not accused of child abuse, said in a statement. He wanted to quash speculation that he was hiding anything.

"I want to make it absolutely clear that I am willing to give evidence, should the commission request this, be it by statement, appearance by video link, or by attending personally."

The hearings this week have focused on shocking abuse in the 1970s, in the Victoria town of Ballarat, and how Ridsdale was able to continue committing offences there and elsewhere.

Now 81 and frail, Ridsdale said he had himself been abused as a youngster. He added that he routinely went to confession over the decades he was a priest but claimed not to have told anyone about the abuse he was committing.

"I didn't confess the sexual offending against children," he said. "Looking back on it, I think that the overriding fear would have been losing priesthood."

Ridsdale has been convicted in four separate court cases of abusing more than 50 children. He will be eligible for parole in 2019.

In his statement on Thursday Pell, who supported Ridsdale in court in 1993 when he admitted widespread abuse, said he was "deeply saddened by the way church authorities have failed in responding to these crimes".

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • ‘Russian Salad’ on cafe menu at NATO summit leaves officials baffled

    ‘Russian Salad’ on cafe menu at NATO summit leaves officials baffled

    As international officials and journalists waited for the world leaders at the NATO summit venue on Tuesday, what baffled them was to find 'Russian Salad' on the in-house restaurant menu -- especially as at the summit, Russia was expected to be labelled as a 'security threat' due to its invasion of Ukraine. The dish was also sold out within hours.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    Zelensky says Putin has become 'a terrorist', urges action| Top updates

    Two days after at least 18 people were killed after Russian missiles struck a shopping mall containing more than 1,000 people in the central city of Kremenchuk in Ukraine, president Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russian president of becoming a “terrorist”. The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for over four months now. He further urged Russia's expulsion from the United Nations.

  • US health officials announce new monkeypox vaccination plan

    US health officials announce new monkeypox vaccination plan

    The Biden administration unveiled a new plan to vaccinate eligible Americans against monkeypox, prioritizing those who have been exposed to the virus in states with the highest infection rates. Hundreds of thousands of doses of the Jynneos vaccine from Bavarian Nordic A/S will be made available under the administration's new plan through a tiered-allocation system, the US Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

  • There are various types of supernovae depending on the size and composition of the star and the power of the blast.

    Meet the 'zombie star' that survived a supernova blast

    Meet the "zombie star." The star at issue, observed with the Hubble Space Telescope, is a kind known as a white dwarf, an incredibly dense object with about the mass of the sun crammed into the size of Earth.

  • Flags flutter in the wind outside Nato headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. (AP)

    Turkey lifts veto on Finland, Sweden joining NATO, clearing path for expansion

    NATO ally Turkey lifted its veto over Finland and Sweden's bid to join the Western alliance on Tuesday after the three nations agreed to protect each other's security, ending a weeks-long drama that tested allied unity against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The steps for Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO will be agreed on in the next two days, Finnish President Niinisto said. U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the deal.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, June 29, 2022