Cardinal George Pell has been accused of designing his evidence to deflect blame onto other senior figures who he claimed deliberately deceived him by keeping him in the dark about the extent of child sex crimes in the Catholic Church.
During his third day of evidence at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, Australia's most senior Catholic rejected claims he ignored a Ballarat boy who attempted to tell him about the sexual misconduct of disgraced Christian Brother Edward Dowlan.
Ballarat clergy abuse survivor Timothy Green told the child sex abuse inquiry last May, Cardinal Pell was dismissive when he reported that Dowlan, who has since changed his name to Ted Bales, was abusing boys at St Patrick's College in Ballarat.
Mr Green said Cardinal Pell claimed he said "don't be ridiculous" and left the room.
But Cardinal Pell said while he was not accusing Mr Green of lying, he had no recollection of having a conversation with Mr Green more than 40 years ago.
"If it had been clear in my mind at that stage when this incident is alleged to have happened ….," Cardinal Pell said.
"If I had actually heard the accusation it would have been significant for me, I would have accepted it and done something about it, but I have no recollection of any such event."
Cardinal Pell admitted to the inquiry earlier this week, he was aware of rumours circulating of Dowlan's sexual behaviour in the early 1970s.
Cardinal Pell also told the sex abuse inquiry that senior church figures around him deceived him by keeping him in the dark on the extent of abuse within the Catholic Church.
He said he was not told by the Catholic Education Office and the archbishop about sexual abuse of children in Ballarat and Melbourne.
Cardinal Pell told the commission on Wednesday he believed the information was kept from him because he would have acted on it.
"They realised very clearly I was not cut from the same cloth," he told the inquiry.
"They (Catholic Education Office) would have been fearful ... that I would have asked all sorts of inconvenient questions if I'd been better briefed."
However, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Gail Furness, did not accept Pell’s evidence that he was unaware of the abuse inflicted on children by Ridsdale.
Ms Furness also rejected the cardinal’s evidence that senior Catholic Church figures who knew of the abuse deliberately did not tell him about it.
She said his evidence was “implausible" and “designed to deflect blame”
The hearing continues in Rome on Thursday.