Catholic World News

Cardinal Pell to testify for Australian royal commission beginning Sunday

February 24, 2016

Cardinal George Pell will testify before a royal commission investigating Australia's sex-abuse scandal beginning on Sunday night, February 28.

The Australian cardinal-- who now serves at the Vatican as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy-- will testify by a video link, from a room in the Hotel Quirinale in Rome. A group of about 15 representatives of Australian sex-abuse victims are expected to witness the testimony.

The cardinal's testimony-- his 3rd appearance before the royal commission-- will be held at night, beginning at 10 and continuing until 2 in the morning, Rome time. That odd timing was arranged so that the testimony could be seen live in Australia during normal business hours on Monday morning. the cardinal's testimony is likely to continue on the following nights.

Cardinal Pell has become the focal point of anger about sexual abuse in Australia, where his critics have vilified him as a representative of an approach that ignored the suffering of abuse victims. The cardinal has strongly defended his actions during his tenure in Australia, and more recently has fought back againt critics who have raised old allegations that have already been investigated and dismissed, and journalists who have joined in a vituperative smear campaign against him.

Vatican-watcher John Allen, reporting from Australia, notes "an almost Alice-in-Wonderland disjunction between public images of Pell in his home country, and how he's viewed in the Vatican." Allen explains:

In Australia, Pell has come to be seen as the embodiment of the Church's dark past, of a corrupt old-guard system of clergy taking care of their own and sweeping problems under the rug. In Rome, however, it's entirely the reverse-- there is a similar well-entrenched clerical old gaurd in the Vatican, and there, Pell is seen as its mortal enemy.



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