VICTIMS will have to wait for more than two months before they find out whether Cardinal George Pell will front the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Cardinal George 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 base in Rome, had "serious health conditions" and requested he give evidence via videolink.
But the Commission declined and requested he attend in person at a further hearing in Ballarat scheduled for February 2016.
His lawyer, Allan Myers QC, told the inquiry Cardinal Pell is too unwell to travel from Rome to Australia.
Mr Myers made the application to the commissioners on behalf on Cardinal Pell at 3pm on Friday.
Mr Myers did not disclose the nature of Cardinal Pell’s illness but said he had medical reports from Italian doctors supporting the request.
Cardinal Pell was expected to fly to Australia on Sunday to appear at the inquiry on Wednesday.
Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan rejected the application.
He called for Cardinal Pell to appear at the Ballarat public hearing of the inquiry scheduled for February.
“In the hope that Cardinal Pell’s health will improve, rather than take video evidence this week we will defer his evidence to the Ballarat sitting in both the Ballarat and Melbourne case studies,” he said. “If the Cardinal’s health has not sufficiently improved by then to enable him to travel, we will further consider the position, which may include further delaying his evidence to a date he can travel safely to Australia.”
IN a statement from the Cardinal Pell’s office it said he had suffered from a heart condition for some time but his symptoms have recently worsened, with a specialist cardiologist in Rome advising only a days ago that it is not safe for him to undertake long haul flights.
The statement said Cardinal Pell understood some would question his decision to remain in Rome but that he needed to heed medical advice and that he had consistently expressed his intention to do everything possible to assist the work of the Royal Commission.
It also said he would assess the commissions request to appear in Ballarat in february
The Ballarat raised Cardinal, who served in Ballarat during the 1970’s, has been under increasing pressure to answer questions about how much was known about serial pedohiles in the Ballarat Diocese at the time.
The week’s hearings have heard from a succession of priests who belonged to former Bishop Ronald Mulkearns’ consultative committee responsible for appointing priest to parishes. Cardinal George Pell belonged to the committee in the early 1980’s.
One of the most contentious areas revealed to the commission is how much the priests on the committee knew about disgraced pedopihile Gerald Ridsdale who as a priest then was moved from parish to parish from the 1960’s into the 1980’s.
Ridsdale, still in prison, continued to leave a trail of victims in whatever parish across Western Victoria he was moved to.
Bishop Mulkearns is in palliative care following surgery for stomach cancer and is unlikely to appear to the commission