CLERGY sex abuse survivors have been left reeling by news Cardinal George Pell will not be appearing at the child sex abuse inquiry next week. Victim and nephew of disgraced priest Gerald Ridsdale said the lives of survivors had been thrown into turmoil again.
He called for Cardinal Pell to “come and face the music” like the survivors have been forced to do for years.
Cardinal Pell is unable to make his anticipated appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse next week due to ill health, his lawyer has said.
Cardinal Pell's counsel, Allan Myers QC, told the hearing on Friday that Cardinal Pell, who is based in Rome, had "serious health conditions" and would be unable to fly to Australia to appear at the inquiry on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, at the request of Cardinal Pell, Mr Ridsdale and fellow survivor Timothy Green were cross-examined for allegations they had made about the senior Vatican.
Mr Ridsdale said victims had been forced to carry the burden too long.
“The truth is we shouldn't have to do this,” he said. “We should not be the people leading this, we should not be the people making sure future generations don’t get abused. That is supposed to be the job of social leaders.”
He said victims had been left in limbo with uncertainty surrounding whether Cardinal Pell will even appear at the public hearing in Ballarat in February.
Mr Ridsdale flew from London to Australia to be cross-examined by Cardinal Pell’s lawyers this week.
“This is just dragging myself, Tim and every other survivor through it all again,” he said. “I thought I was actually going to be able to go home now, start looking for work and finally get on with my life.”
Mr Ridsdale said as the leader of the Catholic Church in Australia, Cardinal Pell had a moral obligation to confront past wrongdoings which had destroyed peoples’ lives.
Victims cried out when the news broke in the County Court in Melbourne. Fellow sexual abuse survivor Andrew Collins said he had no confidence Cardinal Pell would return next year.
“I think he (Pell) has seen this week that the church doesn’t have a strong case here,” Mr Collins said. “They’ve tried to cross-examined survivors, they’ve tried to bully them and it hasn’t worked.”
It comes days after it was revealed Bishop Ronald Mulkearns was subject to a summons to appear before the commission, but is receiving palliative care and is unfit to give evidence.
Bishop Mulkearns is deemed a pivotal person responsible for failing to prevent widespread child sexual abuse across the Ballarat Diocese.