Inquiry into Melb archdiocese child abuse

Cardinal George Pell will give evidence to a royal commission inquiry into child sex abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese as well as its Ballarat investigation.


The royal commission will hold a public hearing into the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s response to child abuse from late November.

The hearing will run alongside the second stage of its inquiry into clergy abuse in the Ballarat diocese.

Cardinal Pell, now the Vatican’s finance chief, had already agreed to return to Australia for the Ballarat inquiry.

Cardinal Pell is a former Melbourne and Sydney archbishop and Ballarat priest.

He and other witnesses who have evidence common to both inquiries will give evidence during a month-long sitting in Melbourne beginning on November 23.

Cardinal Pell has already appeared twice before the child abuse royal commission on other issues, but many victims and their advocates are upset he hasn’t given evidence in Ballarat.

He has repeatedly rejected claims he tried to bribe one victim to keep quiet, ignored complaints and was involved in moving Australia’s worst pedophile priest, Gerald Francis Ridsdale, to a different parish.

The claims were aired again during the first stage of the commission’s Ballarat public hearing held in the Victorian regional city in May.

Retired bishop Geoffrey Robinson in August criticised then Archbishop Pell for dropping a “bombshell” by launching the Melbourne Response to abuse victims in 1996, months before the national Towards Healing program from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The royal commission on Thursday said further evidence in the Ballarat inquiry, including the Christian Brothers’ response to abuse, and final submissions will be heard in Ballarat in the first half of next year.

Cardinal Pell was an assistant priest in Ballarat East from 1973 to 1983 and was the episcopal vicar for education in the Ballarat diocese for 11 years until 1984.