zondag, februari 28, 2016




Irish Times
Paddy Agnew from Rome

29 -2- 2016

It was in every sense a Vatican first. Around midnight in a downtown hotel in the centre of Rome, one of the most powerful Cardinals in the Vatican took to the witness stand to defend his record over the handling of clerical sex abuse.
If it was not happening before your eyes, you would say that it was something made up by film director Nanni Moretti of Habemus Papem fame.
Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy and one of the nine man “Privy Council” of Cardinals who advise Pope Francis, was the Vatican prelate in question. Summoned late last year to appear before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, Cardinal Pell (74) argued that, for “heart-related” health problems, he could not travel to Australia.
The Cardinal agreed to testify to the Commission via a TV link-up, dully set up in the Quirinale Hotel.
The Commission is addressing the question of how child sex abuse incidents and different serial sex abusing priests were handled in two parts of the Australian Church where George Pell served as a priest, namely the town of Ballarat in Victoria and the archdiocese of Melbourne.
At stake is a simple question.
Given that a number of vicious, serial child sex abusers passed through both Ballarat and Melbourne during his time in each place, how can Cardinal Pell claim he was unaware of the ongoing abuse?
His testimony was liberally sprinkled with defensive answers such as; “I don’t have any clear recollection”, “my level of recall is not sufficient to rule it out” or “it’s over 40 years ago and I just cannot remember”.
He avoided polemics, even sounding politically correct as he said: “I am not here to defend the indefensible. The Church has been working to mend things...because we know that the Church has really mucked things up...”
The TV link up to Sydney worked perfectly. Those of us in the Quirinale ballroom could see and hear the commission and the commission could see and hear Cardinal Pell perfectly.
He sat at a small table on his own in the top corner of the room, having discreetly entered by a side entrance.
Ms Furness thanked him for having agreed to testify, pointing out that since his hearing was not taking place on Australian soil, the commission could not summon him to appear.
He was giving evidence as a “voluntary” witness, she said.

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