Cardinal George Pell will be called on to defend allegations he ignored child sex abuse complaints within Victorian institutions – including those by a nephew and victim of a notorious paedophile priest.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continued on Wednesday, with David Ridsdale, the nephew and victim of Australia’s worst paedophile priest Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale, telling the royal commission he told Cardinal Pell in 1993 about the abuse.
David told the commission Cardinal Pell, a family friend, asked him: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”
He said he responded to Cardinal Pell and said: “F*** you George and everything you stand for”.
After he hung up the phone, David said he told his sisters about the February 1993 phone conversation.
“I remember saying to both my sisters ‘the bastard just tried to bribe me’,” David told the hearing in Ballarat.
“I have never stated that Pell offered me anything specific or tangible in our conversation, only that his attempts to direct the conversation down a particular path made me extremely suspicious of his motivations and what he was insinuating.”
David said once he told Cardinal Pell he was abused by his uncle, Cardinal Pell started talking about what he called Risdale’s growing family and that he may soon have a need to buy a car or house for his family.
Meanwhile, a separate victim, Timothy Green, 53, said he also told then Father Pell in 1974 that something had to be done about Christian Brother Edward Dowlan, touching boys at St Patrick’s College, The Australian reported.
“Father Pell said don’t be ridiculous and walked off,” Mr Green said.
Cardinal Pell is a former Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney and is currently a senior figure at the Vatican in Rome where he is Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
Cardinal Pell is expected to be asked to provide a statement to the Royal Commission about Mr Green’s claim.
He had previously denied Mr Green’s account when it was made at the trial of Brother Dowlan.
Chair of the Commission Justice Peter McClellan said the commissioners would be expected to make a finding about what Cardinal Pell was told, as it goes to how the church responded to the allegations.
“I anticipate that we’ll be asked to make findings about what he has to say.”
Peter Gray SC, representing witnesses from the Catholic Church, said when Cardinal Pell is asked to make a statement “he will certainly do so”.
On Tuesday, the commission heard Cardinal Pell may have known about disgraced priest Gerald Ridsdale’s crimes against children years before he faced charges and may have been involved in decisions to move him between parishes.
Counsel Assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, described on Tuesday how the College of Consultors – a group of priests who advised the Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns – decided to move Ridsdale between parishes, Fairfax reported.
Victim speaks of ‘horror room’
Nuns used pliers to pull out the teeth of a child sex abuse victim at a Ballarat orphanage, and he was also locked in a dungeon known as the “horror room” and abused by a priest, the inquiry heard.
Giving evidence, Gordon Hill – now in his 70s – said he was taken to the St Joseph’s Home as a three-year-old.
He told the inquiry he was given the name ’29’ and could still remember “all the little kids getting on the bus” in 1946.
Mr Hill told the inquiry he was first abused by a priest at age five, in a dungeon-like environment he called “the horror rooms”.
“I was given a drink … I blacked out,” he said.
“When I woke up my genitals and bottom hurt … I discovered bite marks. The priest told me to get out.”
He said when he woke up and walked outside, “The nun was laughing. Big joke to her … she told me to get back to work. Maybe because I was walking funny.”
On other occasions Mr Hill said he was stripped down naked, tied up and sexually abused.
Mr Hill told the inquiry his mouth was so sore after having his teeth removed he could not eat, so he fed his food to a mouse he made a pet of in the dungeon.
He said sticks were broken across his back and he still bears the scars.
Mr Hill began crying as he recalled the ongoing nightmares and role the abuse had taken on in his life.
“One of the last things my wife said before she died … was that she hoped one day I could tell my story,” Mr Hill said.
– with ABC/AAP