Pope’s finance chief ready to appear at Australia child abuse inquiry
SYDNEY – Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoPope Francis’ finance chief said May 27 he was ready to give evidence at a child abuse inquiry in his native Australia, as the nation’s most notorious pedophile priest insisted the pair had little to do with each other.
Cardinal George Pell - formerly the top Catholic cleric in Australia and now a senior Vatican official - was accused by a victim during the hearings last week of trying to bribe him to keep quiet.
He was also accused of ignoring complaints and being complicit in moving pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, who appeared at the hearing via video-link from jail, to a different parish.
Pell last week strongly denied the claims in a statement, saying he was horrified by survivors’ accounts of what they suffered at the hands of Ridsdale, whose offences spanned more than three decades from the 1950s to the late 1980s.
During that time Ridsdale abused at least 50 boys as he was moved from parish to parish across Victoria state. At one point he and Pell lived in the same presbytery.
One of the abused was his nephew David Ridsdale, who claimed he confided in family friend Pell about the assaults in 1993, alleging he was asked what it would cost to buy his silence.
Victims have demanded Pell, who was appointed by Pope Francis in February 2014 to make the Vatican’s finances more transparent, return to give evidence in person and he said he was willing to do so.
“Without wanting to pre-empt the royal commission in any way - you can’t just invite yourself to give evidence,” Pell, who is not accused of child abuse, said in a statement, adding that he wanted to quash speculation he was hiding anything.