Of the 33 boys pictured, 12 had committed suicide.

Top Vatican cardinal trailed by old child abuse scandal from Australia - Comment on 2015 June 3 (2)

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“To me it’s absolutely outrageous, and it demonstrates once again the callousness, the cold-heartedness and the contempt that George Pell appears to display for this whole issue and particularly for the victims of these dreadful crimes,” Saunders, the Vatican victims advocate, told 60 Minutes. Read more:

Top Vatican cardinal trailed by old child abuse scandal from Australia

Cardinal George Pell left Sydney two years ago to great fanfare. The longtime Archbishop of Sydney and lauded “defender of the faith down under” had just been appointed chief of the Vatican’s finances — sometimes described as the second most powerful position in Rome. It is the highest an Australian has ever ascended in the Church.

But Pell couldn’t leave behind the child sex abuse scandal that had rocked his hometown, or the hushed accusations that he had a part in it. Those accusations have grown louder and much more public since last month, when an Australian commission began hearings into a notorious pedophilia ring just down the road from where Pell once served as parish priest.

Amid fervent coverage in the Australian press, an accusation that his handling of the issue was “sociopathic” and testimony that Pell ignored warnings about his abusive colleagues and attempted to bribe one victim to stop him from speaking out, Pell has now hired lawyers to fight off attacks from the decades-old scandal he can’t quite shake.

The issue came to a head this Sunday, when Peter Saunders, a British survivor of sexual abuse by a priest who had been specially appointed by Pope Francis to serve on the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors, said that Pell should be removed from his position.

“He has a catalog of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic, I would go as far as to say, this lack of care,” Saunders told the Australian television program 60 Minutes. “… I think it’s critical that he is moved aside — that he is sent back to Australia and that the Pope takes the strongest action against him.”

But Saunders isn’t the only person accusing the prominent cleric. Ten thousand miles from Rome, in Pell’s hometown of Ballarat, abuse victims and fellow priests have given testimony under oath that Pell knew about the dozens of children who were mistreated there.

. . . in Ballarat. There he served as a parish priest and vicar. Just down the road, St. Alipius Primary School had become the site of one of Australia’s most notorious pedophilia rings.

The sexual abuse there has been blamed for “hidden trauma and landscape of death” in the town, in the words of advocate Peter Blenkiron, who spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

One former St. Alipius student who testified before the commission offered a photo of his fourth grade class, lawyer for the commission Gail Furness told the ABC. Of the 33 boys pictured, 12 had committed suicide.

One of the worst abusers was Gerald Ridsdale, a now-defrocked priest convicted of sexual offenses against more than 50 children. Ridsdale lived with Pell in Ballarat for two years.

Ridsdale, who told his family he had “hundreds” of victims, according to the Australian newspaper the Age, was moved to nine different parishes over the course of his career — something the church is often accused of doing when faced with allegations of abuse.

Pell said he knew nothing about his colleague’s treatment of children until the 1990s, when Ridsdale was arrested and charged with dozens of counts of sexual assault over the course of two decades.

When Ridsdale appeared in a Melbourne court in 1993, Pell stood alongside him, dressed in a priest’s garb.

“To me it’s absolutely outrageous, and it demonstrates once again the callousness, the cold-heartedness and the contempt that George Pell appears to display for this whole issue and particularly for the victims of these dreadful crimes,” Saunders, the Vatican victims advocate, told 60 Minutes.

Pell has since said the decision to accompany Ridsdale may have been offensive, according to 60 Minutes.

Gerald Ridsdale, the convicted abuser, testified in May that his behavior was “no secret” in his various parishes, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun. A series of letters and interviews published by the commission showed that the Church hierarchy knew about his abuse as early as the 1970s, but did nothing about it beyond moving him to a new parish and sending him to counseling. Other priests gave testimony that Pell was likely part of high-level meetings about Ridsdale’s offenses by 1977, an allegation Pell has denied.

One of the most biting accusations at the recent hearings came from David Ridsdale, Gerald Ridsdale’s nephew, who said he had been one of his uncles victims. He testified that he told Pell, an old family friend, about the abuse in 1993, but Pell — then a bishop in Melbourne — had seemed unfazed.

“His first reaction was, ‘Oh, right,'” David Ridsdale said, according to coverage by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Then, according to Ridsdale, Pell asked, “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”

“Some days I don’t know who I’m angrier at: Gerald for being a sick monster, or George for the way he reacted and dealt with the issue,” Ridsdale added.

 

See
2012 Nov 23 – Australia's most senior Catholic was present when rape allegation was made
2012 Dec 24 (2) – The Australian Top Catholic
2013 Mar 07 (3) – Cardinals: The "Dirty Dozen"
2013 Mai 03 – Catholic order spent more than $1 million defending serial paedophile Robert Best
2013 Nov 18 – Priests are atheists and criminals
2014 Apr 07 – Catholic Church abused children
2014 Sep 02 (2) – Australia’s Royal Commission extended

 

Only people with high criminal energy have a chance with Pope Francis to be appointed to high office.

 

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