Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Oct 2012
Cardinal George Pell was not even in the country during the timeline a submission to the Victorian Inquiry into child abuse highlights.
He was never present when allegations were made against a Christian Brother referred to in the submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Alleged Criminal Abuse of Children by Religious and Other Organisations by Waller Legal.
The submission, made by Dr Vivian Waller, makes the false and unsubstantiated allegations which have been repeated by media organisations around the country.
It is not clear why the facts were not checked before the submission was provided to the Inquiry as they are easily available.
Dr Waller's submission claims Cardinal Pell was in Ballarat in 1969 when a victim said he asked to speak with Cardinal Pell about his abuse and that he refused but was however in the same room when the boy spoke to a Christian Brother.
However Cardinal Pell was ordained in Rome in 1966 and went onto continue his studies at Oxford where he was studying in 1969 and was not a priest appointed to the Diocese of Ballarat. In fact it was 1971 when he returned to Australia to take up a position at Swan Hill.
He was never present when any allegations of rape were made by a victim against Brother Best.
Cardinal Pell's postings are very easily documented and could easily have been checked by Dr Waller, which may well have been of assistance to her client.
It has been written Dr Waller currently represents more than 50 victims of sexual abuse. In her submission she writes that she feels suitably experienced to comment upon the practices, policies and protocols employed by Catholic organisations in response to allegations of sexual abuse.
Apart from various online sites and biographies, Wikipedia also highlights that Cardinal Pell, at the time a seminarian and young priest, was actually studying overseas.
While Cardinal Pell does not usually comment on Victorian religious life he believes it is necessary to respond to these untrue allegations.
The statement in full is below.
MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY
As Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell does not usually comment on religious life in Victoria and does not plan to comment on the activities of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Alleged Criminal Abuse of Children by Religious and Other Organisations. It is however necessary to respond to recent reports about a false and seriously misleading allegation contained in a submission to the Inquiry.
The claims made in relation to Cardinal Pell in a submission to the Inquiry by Waller Legal are irresponsible, untrue and are absolutely rejected.
Unfortunately, factual errors in the submission to the Inquiry made by Dr Waller of Waller Legal, relating to Cardinal Pell's presence in the Diocese of Ballarat in 1969, have been repeated by media outlets across the country.
These are the facts. The Cardinal was ordained a priest in 1966 in Rome, he continued his studies and then travelled to Oxford to study for his Doctorate. Cardinal Pell was studying at Oxford in 1969 and was not a priest appointed in the Diocese of Ballarat at the time alleged in Dr Waller's submission. Cardinal Pell returned to Australia in 1971 and worked at Swan Hill in the Diocese of Ballarat. In 1973 he received his second appointment as a priest in East Ballarat.
In any event, Cardinal Pell was never present when any allegations of rape were made by a victim against Brother Best.
Cardinal Pell's postings from the early 1960s are well documented and could have easily been checked by Dr Waller (which may well have been of assistance to her client, Victim 2). These details could also have been easily checked by the media outlets reporting on the Inquiry. Factually incorrect submissions may well distract and mislead the Inquiry in the important work it is undertaking.
Cardinal Pell said that the truth will avoid further hurt to victims. Unsubstantiated allegations and personal and false smears are of no assistance to victims or to the Inquiry. He is hopeful that the Inquiry will be able to continue its important work and not have its processes and the Parliamentary privilege afforded to all involved exploited with calumny.
During his sixteen years as Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, Cardinal Pell has regularly explained to the public the procedures followed by him in the areas of his responsibility, his Archdioceses, to combat sex abuse and has never distanced himself from his responsibilities.
Cardinal Pell welcomes efforts to provide healing for victims and to discover the truth.
He has previously indicated that if the Victorian Inquiry feels it would be helpful for him to give evidence, he would certainly do so.