Child sex abuse victims to hear cardinal's testimony in Rome

CANBERRA, Australia - Victims of clergy abuse won permission on Monday to be present next week when Pope Francis's finance minister testifies from Rome to an Australian inquiry into child sex offences within the Roman Catholic Church.

See Full Article

Child abuse victims angry that Cardinal George Pell will not return to Australia to testify at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had requested that they be allowed to hear in person Pell's testimony by video conference, the inquiry's chairman Justice Peter McClellan said.

"The commission considers that to be a reasonable request," McClellan said.

Many victims and their families welcomed the opportunity to face the 74-year-old cleric as he explains what he knew about abuse allegations and what action he took in response.

Anthony Foster, whose two daughters were raped by the same priest, said he booked flights to Rome for himself and his wife hours after McClellan gave permission.

The couple blame the abuse for one daughter's suicide and for the other being left severely disabled when she was hit by a car while drunk.

"It's really important, the evidence that he's giving, and we wanted victims here to know that there was someone from their support group watching it happen," Foster said.

A crowd funding website set up last week to raise 55,000 Australian dollars ($39,000) to send 15 abuse victims and their supporters to Rome had raised more than AU$200,000 by Monday. The excess money will be spent on mental health services at Pell's hometown of Ballarat, the website said.

The Fosters, who are critical of Pell's responses to their daughters' abuse, are paying their own way.

Another victim of cleric abuse at a Catholic school in Ballarat, Paul Tatchell, said he worried that victims' focus on Pell may distract from the inquiry's work.

"I'm no fan of George Pell, but I'm just concerned that some of these things will give the impression of a witch hunt," said Tatchell, referring to the crowd funding and public criticism of Australia's most senior Catholic.

Pell, whom the pope placed in charge of the Vatican's finances in 2014, was to testify next Monday for a third time at the royal commission.

The inquiry ruled this month that the cardinal could give evidence by video from Rome because he was too ill to fly to Australia.

Pell said in a statement last week that he would co-operate with whatever arrangements the royal commission made for his testimony.

McClellan said a hotel room in central Rome had been selected as the venue for Pell's testimony, but its communications equipment had yet to be tested.

Pell is to give evidence about how church authorities responded to allegations of child sex abuse in Ballarat and in Melbourne, Australia's second-most populous city after Sydney.

He is accused of creating a victims' compensation program mainly to protect the church's assets and of using aggressive tactics to discourage victims' lawsuits, all while he was a bishop in Australia. He has denied any wrongdoing.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Slim Republican majority on U.S. tax bill under threat after Marco Rubio defects

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. Republican Party's razor-thin margin for driving their sweeping tax package through the Senate was thrown into jeopardy Thursday when Republican Sen. Marco Rubio declared he will vote against it unless negotiators expand the tax credit that low-income Americans can claim for their children. Source
  • Veterans brace for battle and disappointment as pension decision looms

    Canada News CBC News
    The Liberal government's plan to give wounded ex-soldiers "the option" of a lifetime pension will be a complicated two-part rejigging of the current system, CBC News has learned. A series of sources with knowledge of the file say the first component involves recognizing the pain and suffering of injuries with either the existing lump sum award, or a monthly tax-free payment to a maximum of $1,200 per month. Source
  • UN envoy says 'golden opportunity missed' as Syria talks wrap up

    World News CTV News
    GENEVA -- The U.N. envoy for Syria said the latest round of Geneva talks ended without progress on Thursday after two fruitless weeks, calling it a "golden opportunity missed" and acknowledging that he needs to come up with new ideas to make headway toward ending Syria's nearly seven-year war. Source
  • Nephews of Venezuelan president's wife get 18 years in prison

    World News CBC News
    A New York judge has sentenced two nephews of the Venezuelan president's wife to 18 years in prison for their conviction on drug conspiracy charges. Judge Paul Crotty announced the sentences in Manhattan federal court after the men apologized for their crimes. Source
  • RCMP looking anew at 284 sexual assault cases from 2016

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The Mounties say they are going to take a new look at 284 sexual assault cases that they originally classified as unfounded. The decision comes after the RCMP reviewed 2,225 sexual assault files from 2016 in which police concluded that no violation of the law had taken place or was attempted. Source
  • Paul Ryan denies reports, says he's not leaving Congress soon

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he's not leaving Congress anytime soon, trying to squelch rumours that he will walk away in triumph after the Republicans' treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and The Huffington Post published reports speculating that Ryan would make this two-year Congress his last or even resign after lawmakers approve the $1.5 trillion tax bill, which is expected next week. Source
  • Britain First leader whom Trump re-tweeted arrested again in Belfast

    World News CBC News
    A leader of a British far-right group, whose anti-Islamic posts were retweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump causing outrage in Britain, was arrested in Northern Ireland on Thursday minutes after being bailed over a separate incident. Source
  • California police bust multimillion-dollar weed 'fortress'

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Police in Southern California raided a weed "fortress" on Wednesday, seizing 35,000 marijuana plants and shutting down an operation they believe was bringing in millions of dollars a month. Investigators first turned their sights on the illegal grow operation about two months ago after receiving complaints from neighbours. Source
  • No jail for fertility doctor who lied about using own sperm

    World News CTV News
    INDIANAPOLIS -- A retired Indianapolis fertility doctor accused of inseminating patients with his own sperm will serve no jail time after pleading guilty Thursday to charges that he lied to investigators. A Marion County judge gave Dr. Source
  • Ex-husband forged documents to hide millions in B.C. divorce case

    Canada News CBC News
    A woman who was earning just $900 a month working in a hotel laundry while her then-husband concealed a fortune has won nearly $1.3 million in spousal support. Quesnel businessman Dalbir Singh Sangha is "an admitted forger and perjurer" who fraudulently hid millions of dollars in assets from his ex-wife, Amarjit Kaur Sangha, according to B.C. Source