Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Several Takes on Cardinal Pell's Last Day of Testimony to Commission

'I hope that my appearance here has contributed a bit to healing,' says Pell at the conclusion of questioning – as it happened

Cardinal George Pell tells the royal commission he regrets his choice of words when he described offending by the paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale as a ‘sad story’ that ‘wasn’t of much interest to me’.

Melissa Davey

A recap of one of the most telling exchanges between Justice Peter McClellan and Cardinal George Pell

Melissa Davey here closing off our live coverage of Cardinal George Pell’s evidence before Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse.

A recap of the key evidence from today:

Pell gave a brief press confidence following the close of his evidence before the royal commission, saying: “I hope that my appearance here has contributed a bit to healing, to improving the situation”.

At 9.30pm Australian eastern daylight time, survivors will meet with Pell in Rome. They have largely expressed disappointment at his evidence, saying it at times lacked empathy and transparency.

A lawyer for abuse victims has put it to Pell today that the death of at least one child abuse victim could have been prevented had Pell gone to police so an investigation could have been launched. The statement was met by applause from survivors watching from Ballarat town hall.

Pell sais when a young schoolboy came to him to say Brother Edward Dowlan was abusing children, he “didn’t do anything about it” aside from tell a chaplain because he believed then that was all he had to do. He was strongly challenged on this point by Justice Peter McClellan.

Pell said investigating pedophile priest Peter Searson was not his responsibility and he believed the Catholic Education Office and the Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, was handling the allegations.

Pell said that he regrets what child sexual abuse within the church does to the Catholic faith of the survivors, their families and society.

Pell was questioned by his own lawyer, Sam Duggan, who tried to demonstrate that Pell had limited contact with notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale during some of the period in which he was abusing children across several parishes.

However, Ridsdale was convicted for abusing more than 50 children over a period of 30 years. For a time, he lived in a parish with Pell.

Duggan said it was Pell who handed pedophile priest Peter Searson a letter requesting that he resign in 1998, a move not supported by the Vatican in Rome.

However, the commission also heard the Catholic Education Office handed Pell a list of grievances against Searson long before that, in 1989. Pell believed the list, which included reports Searson had abused animals in front of children and was using children’s toilets, did not contain enough information about the situation for him to act.

The ABC Australia writes:

The ABC has filed this report on the response of survivors today. 

Sex abuse survivors say they are looking forward to the royal commission handing down its findings in relation to Cardinal George Pell’s testimony, saying they believe he has not been truthful.

Cardinal Pell fronted the child abuse royal commission for a fourth day and final day via videolink from a Rome hotel on Thursday, saying he believed it was a “disastrous coincidence” that a series of pedophile priests had been sent to the Ballarat East parish during the 1970s.

Speaking outside the Hotel Quirinale, survivors said they doubted Cardinal Pell was telling the truth.

“The Ballarat survivors came to Rome to hear truth and honesty from George. We feel we have been deceived and lied to,” survivor Philip Nagle said.

“The royal commission at some stage in the future will give a recommendation on the evidence given by George.”

In several hours – at 9.30pm Australian eastern daylight time and 11.30am Rome time – abuse survivors will meet with Cardinal George Pell.

On the possibility of meeting with the Pope
They hope to also meet with Pope Francis before they leave Rome on Saturday, but no word yet on whether the Vatican has responded to that request. They want a commitment that no child will be abused within the Catholic church ever again, and that everything will be done to prevent abuse in a transparent and rigorous way.

Survivors have said at a press conference in Rome earlier that Pell’s evidence has not left them hopeful that the church is open to transparency, or that it understands the serious and devastating implications abuse has had on their lives.

Australian Parliament

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, has brought up the royal commission in parliamentary question time. He says to the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull:

Australians have been shocked and angered by evidence revealed at the royal commission into child sexual abuse. In September last year the royal commission’s final report on redress and litigation recommended a single national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse. Labor committed to a single national redress scheme in October last year. Will the prime minister join with Labor and commit to a single national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse?

Turnbull responded:

The government has carefully considered the royal commission’s recommendations and will lead the development of a national approach to redress for victims of institutional child sexual abuse. We recognise the importance of developing such a national approach to redress as quickly as possible. Survivors want redress, they deserve redress to assist with the healing process. Now we’ve commenced discussions with the states and territories to carefully work through these many complex issues.

Kristina Keneally's take

The former premier of NSW Kristina Keneally, who also has a masters in theology, has been closely following Pell’s evidence to the royal commission. She has written some analysis for Guardian Australia. Keneally writes Cardinal Pell has thrown his men to the wolves – it’s everyone’s fault but his:

Cardinal George Pell’s evidence this week to the royal commission on institutional responses to child sexual abuse is – to many – shocking. Audible gasps can sometimes be heard from the public gallery in Sydney.

Most of the criticism of Pell is sparked by this one stark statement, given in response to questions about what the younger Pell knew about convicted serial paedophile Gerald Ridsdale: “It was a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me ... I had no reason to turn my mind to the evils Ridsdale had perpetrated.”

Let’s set aside that perhaps any priest – indeed, any human with a functioning conscience – might have shown some interest once stories and rumours started to swirl in Ballarat. Pell shared a house with Ridsdale, Pell sat on a committee of priests who made decisions to move Ridsdale from parish to parish, Pell was vicar for education when Ridsdale was a school chaplain at St Alipius, and Pell accompanied Ridsdale to court when he was finally charged.

Pell had more reasons than most to turn his mind to what Ridsdale was perpetrating.

Melissa Davey

A recap of one of the most telling exchanges between Justice Peter McClellan and Cardinal George Pell

With Pell’s evidence now over, this exchange is worth going over in full:

McClellan asked Pell about how he responded to a young schoolboy who came to him to say Brother Edward Dowlan was abusing children. In 2015, Dowlan was convicted of 16 counts of indecent assault against 11 boys at four different Christian Brothers’ schools and was sentenced to six years and six months in prison, with a four-year non-parole period.

McClellan: “What did that boy say to you?”

Pell: “Um, he said something like ‘Dowlan is misbehaving with boys’.”

McClellan: “That was a very serious matter to be raised with you, wasn’t it?”

Pell: “Um, yes, that is the case.”

McClellan: “What did you do about it?”

Pell: “Um, I didn’t do anything about it.”

McClellan: “Would you have done something about it?”

Pell: “Well, I eventually did. I eventually inquired with the school chaplain.”

McClellan: “You didn’t go straight to the school and say ‘I’ve got this allegation, what’s going on’?”

Pell: “No, I didn’t.”

McClellan: “Should you have?”

Pell: “Um, with the experience of 40 years later, certainly I would agree that I should have done more.”

McClellan: “Why do you need the experience of 40 years later? Wasn’t it a serious matter then?”

Pell: “Yes, but people had a different attitude then. There was no specifics about the activity, how serious it was and the boy wasn’t asking me to do anything about it but just lamenting and mentioning.”

McClellan: “You and I have had this discussion on more than one occasion: Why was it necessary for people to ask you to do something rather than for you to accept the information and initiate your own response?”

Pell: “Um, obviously that is not the case and my responsibilities as an auxiliary bishop and director of an educational institute and archbishop, obviously I was more aware of those obligations in those situations than I was as a young cleric. But I ... don’t excuse my comparative lack of activity.”