Politics

George Pell Knew About Child Abuse Decades Ago, Royal Commission Finds

"Cardinal Pell was not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip," the report reads.

Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced after being found guilty of child sex abuse

Now that George Pell’s legal battles are over we’re finally allowed to hear what the royal commission into child sexual abuse dug up on him.

Shocker: turns out that as far back as the 70s he would have been aware that priests were abusing kids, and did nothing about it. Not only that, he worked to avoid people gossiping about it.

The findings were part of the royal commission’s report that was handed down more than two years ago, but sections relating to Pell were redacted at the time because he was facing his own accusations of historical sexual abuse.

Pell’s convictions were overturned last month which cleared the way for more than 100 redacted pages to be tabled to parliament this morning.

Pell has always denied knowing of any child abuse occurring in Ballarat while he was a priest there in the 70s and 80s, despite living with notorious paedophile Gerard Ridsdale for some time in 1973. Ridsdale was convicted of more than 130 offences against children.

“We are also satisfied that by 1973 Cardinal Pell was not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it,” the report reads.

The royal commission delivered this report to parliament in December 2017 after a five year enquiry.

What Did Pell Know?

Revelations that the Catholic church regularly “dealt with” priests accused of abusing children by transferring them to other parishes had already been revealed by the royal commission.

However, Pell denied knowing about the extent of the abuse within the church, and tried to defend himself by claiming he was deceived by senior figures.

The commission shut that down, stating: “We are satisfied that Cardinal Pell’s evidence as to the reasons that the CEO deceived him was implausible. We do not accept that Bishop Pell was deceived, intentionally or otherwise”.

The commission also found Pell, while a bishop, should have removed or investigated another accused priest Peter Searson, who died without facing charges.

In giving evidence to the commission, Pell himself said he had been handed a list of allegations about Searson, but did not believe they were enough to act.

“On the basis of what was known to Bishop Pell in 1989, it ought to have been obvious to him at the time. He should have advised the Archbishop to remove Father Searson and he did not do so.”

To date, no one in Australia has been convicted for the crime of concealment of child sexual abuse.