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International – Catholic child abuse

April 2016

Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has promised to do more to help people who suffered abuse at the hands of Catholic priests.

In a meeting in Rome, Cardinal Pell vowed to help lower suicide rates among people who were abused by Catholic priests as children.

Cardinal Pell met privately with a group of survivors who flew to Rome to watch him testify to an Australian Royal Commission into child abuse. According to a BBC report, the cardinal gave his evidence from Rome via video link, due to ill health.

A spokesman for the survivors, David Ridsdale, said they had ‘an honest dialogue’, adding, ‘There were no formalities. It was extremely personal in terms of what everyone was allowed to say and respond to. This has been a long process and this is just another step. It doesn’t change drastically the reality of institutional systemic abuse across the world that was covered up’.

Mr Ridsdale, who was abused by his uncle Gerard Ridsdale, alleged that Cardinal Pell offered him a bribe to ‘keep quiet’ — a claim the cardinal denies.

The group initially refused to see the cardinal, but said they met on a ‘level playing field’, after some conditions surrounding the discussion were removed. Cardinal Pell told reporters afterwards that the two-hour-long meeting was hard and occasionally emotional, promising to work with the group to help stop suicides and end suffering.