EVIDENCE GIVEN: Priest featured in commission

CARDINAL George Pell has given evidence to a Royal Commission on Child Sex Abuse about a former priest who had served the Catholic Church at Apollo Bay.

Cardinal Pell is giving evidence about his knowledge of the sex abuse claims from the Ballarat diocese, which includes Colac and district.

Cardinal Pell started giving evidence at the royal commission from Rome on Monday.

Special Counsel Gail Furness asked Cardinal Pell yesterday, the second day of evidence, if he knew anything about notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale applying for a transfer out of the parish at Apollo Bay.

Cardinal Pell said “no” and followed up by saying it was “different times” and that when the church found a priest had committed abuse and it was a first offence authorities believed it was appropriate to send the priest away for counselling “with the possibility of return”.

He also said it was unacceptable authorities moved Father Ridsdale between parishes despite the knowledge of abuse because it put other children at risk and it appeared that no “effort was made to withdraw Ridsdale, at least for a period, for counselling”.

Father Ridsdale is serving a combined 40-year jail sentence after magistrates convicted him for more than 100 offences including indecent assault and child sexual abuse in separate court appearances.

Cardinal Pell has said he was unaware of any sexual abuse allegations while he was a junior priest at Ballarat, despite other testimonies to the royal commission stating it was “well known” within dioceses.

Honourable Peter McClellan said the royal commission had received a total of 16,361 allegations as of September last year with 11,988 allegations of abuse confirmed to fit the terms of reference and relate to an identified institution.

Mr McClellan said that 7049 allegations related to faith-based institutions and 3621 related to government institutions.

He said 4418 allegations related to the Catholic Church, 871 related to Anglican intuitions, 411 allegations related to the Uniting Church, 123 related to Presbyterian institutions and 69 allegations related to Methodist institutions.

Mr McClennan said the commission had received 519 allegations in relation to the Salvation Army, 137 relating to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, 59 allegations related to Baptist intuitions and a range of other institutions.

“I have now referred 727 matters to police to investigate with a view to the possible prosecution of an offender,” he said.

The royal commission will finish its work in December next year.

Comments are closed.