CARDINAL George Pell’s appearance at the state government inquiry into institutionalised child abuse was less than convincing yesterday.
Cardinal Pell blustered his way through some tough grilling, exchanging particularly terse words with committee member Andrea Coote over any potential church compensation.
He gave long-winded answers, often veered off topic and was critical of a committee decision not to allow him a brief opening statement, which is in line with previous testimonies by anyone dealing with abused children.
He constantly defended the church’s actions but provoked laughter when he accidentally referred to the Holy See as a company.
A huge crowd turned up for Cardinal Pell’s appearance, with the Parliament House Legislative Council committee room and a second viewing area both overflowing.
Many of the crowd had waited a long time to hear Cardinal Pell speak, with many of his answers received with cynical laughter.
“I’ve waited 18 years to get this bloke, I can wait a bit longer,” one elderly gentleman said to a Parliament House staffer apologising for a slow lift.
Another woman said she wanted to see how Cardinal Pell “bullied” his way out of this one.
Security was also tight, with all attendees having to hand over all bags, despite them already having been scanned.
Outside Parliament House, a small group of protesters had gathered with placards reading “Tell the truth Pell” and “Jesus must be Weeping”.
Kevin Mackenzie, of Melbourne, chanted “no excuse for child abuse”.
Mr Mackenzie was abused in a Melbourne orphanage and said he believed Cardinal Pell had covered up paedophilia by Catholic priests.
“Our stand today is to say ‘no more’,” Mr Mackenzie said.