Cardinal George Pell has responded to the national campaign to bring him home for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a statement overnight.
It comes as people all over Australia and the world have donated well over $100,000 to get survivors to Rome for his hearing at the end of the month.
The statement asserts Cardinal Pell’s consistent support for those abused by priests in the Melbourne Archdiocese and Ballarat Diocese.
“The past few days has seen a great deal of incorrect information relating to Cardinal George Pell and his upcoming Royal Commission appearance,” the statement said.
“Cardinal Pell has always helped victims, listened to them and considered himself their ally. As an archbishop for almost twenty years he has led from the front to put an end to cover ups, to protect vulnerable people and to try to bring justice to victims.”
The Royal Commission accepted medical evidence earlier this month that Cardinal Pell was too ill to travel to Australia.
Following that decision, television hosts Gorgi Coghlan and Meshel Laurie set up a Go Fund Me page to send Ballarat survivors to Rome to hear Cardinal Pell’s evidence.
It has had an extraordinary response, raising over $170,000 as of Thursday morning.
He said he would meet with the survivors, as he has done after past hearings.
“As Cardinal Pell has done after earlier hearings, he is prepared to meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support,” the statement said.
Cardinal Pell was behind the Melbourne Response in the 1990s which saw survivors compensated without involvement of the courts of police and lived with Gerald Ridsdale in the 1970s.
The statement outlined his previous appearance before the state inquiry into Church responses to widespread sexual abuse.
“He has appeared before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and twice before the Royal Commission, including for several days in person at the Royal Commission public hearing in Sydney in 2014,” it said.
The details for his appearance before the current Royal Commission via video link from Rome are still being worked out.
“The Cardinal is anxious to present the facts without further delays. It is ultimately a matter for the Royal Commission to determine the precise arrangements for the provision of evidence by the Cardinal in Rome,” the statement said.
Read The Courier’s wider coverage of the campaign and abuse
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