Cardinal Pell too ill to testify in person at sex abuse inquiry

Cardinal Pell too ill to testify in person at sex abuse inquiry February 7, 2016

Australian judge, Justice Peter McClellan, will decide tomorrow whether Cardinal George Pell, above, should be allowed to give evidence to the child abuse Royal Commission via video link from Rome rather than appearing in person.
According to this report, Australia’s most senior Catholic has, for a second time, asked for his evidence to heard in this way because he is apparently in no condition to fly.
But lawyers for the victims told the Royal Commission that Pell’s medical condition, which has been revealed to them but not made public, were “very common” in anyone of the Cardinal’s age, 74.
Pell had been due to give evidence in person at the second stage of the Ballarat hearings in Melbourne late last year. But in December the commission heard that he was too unwell to appear.
At the time, the chair of the commission, Justice McClellan, refused Pell’s request. He said the commission would wait until February to see if Pell’s condition improved so that he could fly to Australia for the hearings due at the end of February.
Counsel for abuse victim Graeme Sleeman, Paul O’Dwyer SC, told the commission that Pell’s medical condition “fades into insignificance” considering that:

Witness after witness has had to spell out the most intimate details of their life in the witness box, sometimes not anonymously.

He called for Pell’s medical report to be made public. His comments were supported by other lawyers for victims.
Pell’s lawyer, Allan Myers, urged the commission to keep the majority of the medical report private, saying disclosing it would:

Lead to debate in the press of the medical condition of Cardinal Pell, and there is no public interest in that.

Myers tendered medical evidence to the commission that said flying could pose a risk to Pell’s health. The condition is related to Pell’s heart, with the medical documents signed by two cardiologists.
Pell, who supported the paedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale during his first court appearance for child sex offences in 1993, has always denied knowing of any child abuse occurring in Ballarat while he worked there as a priest and with a clerical group called the College of Consultors during the 1970s and 80s. Pell also spent time living with Ridsdale in 1973 but has said he had no idea he was a paedophile.
Child sex abuse victim, David Ridsdale, had previously given evidence before the Commission that Pell urged him to to keep quiet about his molestation at the hands of his uncle and then priest, Gerald Ridsdale. Pell has previously denied these allegations.
Gerald Ridsdale committed more than 130 offences against children as young as four between the 1960s and 1980s, including while working as a school chaplain at St Alipius, the royal commission has previously heard. He is now in prison.
On Friday David Ridsdale criticised the lack of transparency around Pell’s condition. Some victims still suffering the effects of their abuse had been required to give evidence before the commission, including under cross-examination by Pell’s lawyers, numerous times, he said.

The lack of transparency in Pell’s medical condition is incredible considering the private details that we victims had to reveal in public. The need to have him in person is the same reason we needed to be in the presence of the court and processes.

Meanwhile, it is reported here that another inquiry into clerical sex abuse has run into a spot of bother.
Saunders
The Papal Commission on Sexual Abuse in Rome passed a no-confidence vote against an “outspoken” commission member, Peter Saunders, above, branding him a “campaigner” who talked too much to the media. Commission members decided he should take a leave of absence.
But Saunders has refused to quit, saying his treatment by the Vatican is “outrageous”.
Saunders, who as a child was abused by priests, has been highly critical of the commission, set up in 2014.
Responding to a Vatican statement about his leave of absence, Saunders said:

I was never told in advance of any such statement. I find it outrageous that I was not told, much less that the statement occurred before I had had any time to reflect on what I might do next.
I have not left and I’m not leaving my position on the commission. I was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis and I will only talk to him about my position.

He added:

For me, as a survivor, the commission is a disgrace … They believe that child abuse is behind us, but it is in no way behind us.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Saunders report)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • CoastalMaineBird

    As long as they’re arguing about Pell’s medical condition, they’re not talking about church buggery.
    Which is, after all, the point.

  • Hundreds of priests to rape children, thousands of clergy to cover them up, and billions of ‘good Christians’ to keep them wealthy and powerful. The whole institution is worthy of criticism.

  • AgentCormac

    ‘…Australia’s most senior Catholic has, for a second time, asked for his evidence to heard in this way because he is apparently in no condition to fly.’
    Althouh he was clealry in good enough condition to flee.

  • Newspaniard

    I wonder where Pell picked up Tertiary Syphilis and whether bits of his body have begun to fall off yet? Not that I, personally, wish him ill.

  • Justin Badby

    This most rancid individual was called to the vatican to run the money side of the scam …. sorry – godly business … to make it compliant with international accounting standards. Yes I am sure he will say he is doing that that but only after the dosh has been squirelled away behind an inpenetrable firewall of finacial hocus pocus. But many suspect the reason was to get him into the vatican and away from the Australian Legal system. Well if he won’t appear in person then withdraw his Australian citizenship as he no longer seems to need it. I understand that the vatican is a State, and a well upholstered comfortable one too. And isn’t it a bit odd that the vast wealth of the catholic church is under the control of a man too sick to take a first class flight? If I was going to appoint a financial advisor I would only appoint someone qualified, honest and physically capable. Pell satisfies none of these criteria.

  • Justin Badby

    In June 2002, Pell was accused of having sexually abused a 12-year-old boy at a Roman Catholic youth camp in 1961 whilst a seminarian. Pell vigorously denied all the accusations and stood aside as soon as the allegations were made public,[86] but he did not resign as archbishop. The complainant agreed to pursue his allegations through the church’s own process for dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct, the National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS). Justice A.J. Southwell, hired by the church to investigate the matter, found that the complainant gave the impression of “speaking honestly from actual recollection”.[87] Justice Southwell concluded, however, that notwithstanding this impression, he could not regard the complaint as established:[88]
    In the end, and notwithstanding that impression of the complainant, bearing in mind the forensic difficulties of the defense occasioned by very long delay, some valid criticism of the complainant’s credibility, the lack of corroborative evidence and the sworn denial of the respondent, I find I am not satisfied that the complaint has been established.
    Pell claimed to have been exonerated, while the complainant’s solicitor said his client had been vindicated.

  • Justin Badby

    In February 2010 it was reported that Pell “had a heart turn in Rome recently and that he’s in hospital there or has been in hospital there”. It is thought that Pell was taken to hospital when he first arrived in Rome after he collapsed due to ill health and exhaustion. He was released from hospital the same day and sources close to Pell said that he had been in good health since.[83]
    Pell’s heart condition was again in the news in late 2015, when it was judged serious enough to prevent air travel from Italy to Australia to appear before the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse. He was expected to be well enough to travel in February 2016.

  • Justin Badby

    The idea that you can solve a great spiritual and health crisis like AIDS with a few mechanical contraptions like condoms is ridiculous.

  • barriejohn

    Justin Badby: The following is very good.
    https://www.catholicsforchoice.org/news/inthenews/PellRidesPapalBandwagonofDeath.asp
    “They encourage promiscuity,” the cardinal told Sky Television. “The idea that you can solve a great spiritual and health crisis like AIDS with a few mechanical contraptions like condoms is ridiculous.”
    The whole article is well worth reading.
    Already the weasel wordsmiths of the church will be working out ways to “explain” and put Pell’s words “in context” and throw in a few “experts” to prove him “right”.
    It’s true that condoms don’t prevent all transmissions of HIV/AIDS. Aspirin doesn’t cure every headache either. And we know in our hearts – and every reputable study confirms – that the church’s call for abstinence is useless.
    Sex beats prayer. Even bishops have sex. We know, because they have died of AIDS.
    Since
    Humanae Vitae, disobedience has become a way of life for Catholics in the West. Catholics in Europe and Australia use contraception like everyone else. Safe sex campaigns have strong political backing. But how many good Catholics will die in Africa and the Philippines before they learn that in the 21st century disobeying the Vatican line is a matter of life and death?

  • Ivan

    I suppose he’ll be nice company for Cardinal Law.

  • Marcus

    If Pell is to ill to fly, perhaps he should consider taking Frankie’s Magical Mercy Bus to Melbourne:
    http://freethinker.co.uk/2016/02/06/destination-salvation-popes-blessed-bus-is-to-debut-soon/
    If he dies en route there’ll be enough priests on board to administer the last rites.

  • Bubblecar

    It seems the man is now essentially a fugitive. It’s possible he’s been tipped off that he faces arrest as soon as the plane lands, so I doubt we’ll be seeing Pell darkening this corner of the globe again.

  • Vanity Unfair

    “Pell’s lawyer, Allan Myers, urged the commission to keep the majority of the medical report private, saying disclosing it would:
    Lead to debate in the press of the medical condition of Cardinal Pell, and there is no public interest in that.”
    That’s a nicely ambivalent statement but that is why lawyers are paid so much. There is a already a lot of interest from the public in the cardinal’s medical condition so the statement could be wrong. However, the cardinal’s state of health might have no bearing on the case so it would be not be in the public interest to reveal a confidential medical document.
    No doubt Justice McClellan will make a decision as chairman but I suspect that decision will be appealed immediately by whichever party it discomfits.

  • RussellW

    According to a report in The Guardian, Pell has been allowed to give evidence by video link, that’s probably the best outcome that the Commision could expect.
    Let’s all pray that His Eminence manages to complete giving evidence without any major medical emergencies.

  • Ivan

    @RussellW
    I’ve just seen the same article.
    I say put him on a boat.
    If there are no cruise liners between Italy and Australia it’s a little known fact that there are plenty of cargo ships and tankers all over the world that make extra money by taking a small number commercial passengers in separate (and very comfortable) quarters from the crew. You eat (very well I hear) with the officers.
    It would take a few weeks but would be well worth the wait for this guy.

  • Justin Badby

    Would I, as an ordinary person, be afforded this immunity if I were deeply implicated in child rape case?
    NO
    Would I if I was the CEO of an international engineering, pharmaceutical or foodstuff company be afforded this immunity if I were deeply implicated in child rape case?
    NO
    Would I if I was a high ranking member of a global crime syndicate accused of fraud, money laundering, false accounting, blackmail, infection of thousands of people with AIDs, persecution of homosexuals, complicity in the death of women in need of abortion, complicity in genocide and child trafficking be afforded this immunity if I were deeply implicated in child rape case?
    YES

  • Robster

    If the poor old thing was too ill to fly all the way back to Oz from Rome, this condition would have been known by Pell’s medical cabal, why did Frank insist he go there in the first place. I smell the aroma of decaying credibility here…