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Pell has faced renewed accusations in the past fortnight.

Pell has faced renewed accusations in the past fortnight. Source: Supplied

CARDINAL George Pell has been condemned over his treatment of abuse victims by the man hand-picked by the Pope to protect children in the Catholic Church.

In an extraordinary attack aired on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, Peter Saunders said the cardinal had acted with “callousness” and “cold-heartedness”.

Pope Francis’s specially appointed commissioner for the protection of children added:“I think it’s critical that he is moved aside — that he is sent back to Australia and that the Pope takes the strongest action against him.”

In the past fortnight, the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse heard damning evidence in Ballarat against Father Gerald Ridsdale, Australia’s worst paedophile priest. Witnesses accused Pell of ignoring warnings about Ridsdale, and one claims Pell tried to silence him with a bribe, an allegation he has previously denied.

The Commission also heard that Pell attended a meeting where it was decided that Ridsdale needed to be moved to another parish, and did not question the move.

Ridsdale was moved nine times within Victoria.

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George Pell’s Commissioner says the Cardinal is ‘almost sociopathic’

The Catholic Church has a history of moving paedophile priests instead of taking action against them.

“I’ve been to Australia and I’ve heard from people who have suffered directly,” said Saunders, who is himself a victim of paedophile priests.

“I think he is somebody who, understandably, victim survivors will have a huge, huge issue with.”

Saunders, who joined the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors six months ago, said Pell had “a moral responsibility” to face the Royal Commission, “to allay the fears that many victims and survivors feel, which is that he is avoiding facing some very, very difficult truths, which is his past behaviour.”

Pell has said he has not been asked to meet the Royal Commission following the latest claims and that he fully supports its work. As head of Vatican finances, he is thought to be the second-most powerful man in the Catholic Church.

A spokesperson for Pell said he had not seen the material prior to 60 Minutes’ broadcast, and that he had not met nor been approached by Mr Saunders.

David Ridsdale told the Royal Commission 13 years ago that when he turned to Pell after being abused by his uncle, Father Gerald Ridsdale, Pell said: “I want to know what it would take to keep you quiet.”

 

Cardinal Pell has previously denied David Ridsdale’s allegation he offered him a bribe fo

Cardinal Pell has previously denied David Ridsdale’s allegation he offered him a bribe for his silence. Source: News Corp Australia

The cardinal then still chose to publicly support Ridsdale by accompanying him to court when he was charged with abusing a number of other boys, which he now concedes might have been “offensive.”

Saunders said: “To me, it’s absolutely outrageous, and it demonstrates once again the callousness, the cold-heartedness and the contempt that George Pell appears to display for this whole issue and particularly, for the victims of these dreadful crimes.”

In 2002, Anthony and Chrissie Foster said they had approached Pell, then-Archbishop of Melbourne, about the repeated sexual abuse of their daughters’ Emma and Katie by their school priest. Emma later took her own life.

The couple showed Pell a photo of Emma on her confirmation day and one after she had self-harmed, and he reportedly said: “She’s changed, hasn’t she?”

Pell denied having seen the photo in 2002, but in 2013 he said he probably had, and simply hadn’t had “a chance for a considered response”.

“Those photographs, they are not something that you would forget,” said Saunders, calling Pell a “massive thorn in the side” of the Pope.

“He is making a mockery of the Papal Commission, of the Pope himself, but most of all, of the victims and the survivors.

“Anybody who is a serious obstacle to the work of the Commission and to the work of the Pope in trying to clean up the Church’s act over this matter, I think they need to be taken aside very, very quickly and removed from any kind of position of influence.

“Our direction cannot include cover-ups and allowing children to be abused”.

In the war against abuse, the Pope recently declared, “one priest abusing a minor was reason enough to move the Church’s whole structure.”

— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) May 31, 2015