Cardinal George Pell had knowledge of serious allegations of sexual abuse by Ballarat Catholic clergy in the early 1970s, but failed to act, a royal commission has heard.
In their final submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse released on Monday, the counsel assisting the inquiry found Cardinal Pell was told of disgraced paedophile Christian Brother Edward Dowlan’s sexual misconduct with children by at least one student and two priests as early as 1973.
The submissions released by counsel assisting exceed 800 pages and their recommendations do not have to be accepted by the commission.
The inquiry heard Cardinal Pell raised the allegations with the chaplain of St Patrick’s College Father Brendan Davey and asked him whether there was any truth in the matter.
Father Davey died in August this year and was never called to give evidence to the inquiry.
Father Davey confirmed there were problems with Dowlan’s behaviour, but told Cardinal Pell the Christian Brothers were dealing with it, the inquiry was told.
Cardinal Pell, who testified to the commission in March via video link from Rome said he was aware of instances of Dowlan “misbehaving” which he conceded could have been “paedophilic activity.”
When asked why he did not raise the matter with Brother Nangle Cardinal Pell said he trusted the Christian Brothers were dealing with the matter.
“I was told they (Christian Brothers) were dealing with it,” he said.
Dowlan who changed his name by deed poll to Ted Bales in 2011, went on to molest more than a dozen students until 1985.
Counsel assisting the royal commission Gail Furness SC found Cardinal Pell, along with a number of other priestly consultors to former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, knew notorious serial paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale was sexually abusing children as he was moved from parish to parish.
She also believed the evidence of a number of witnesses in the Ballarat and Melbourne dioceses regarding Cardinal Pell’s knowledge of the clergy misconduct ahead of the cardinal’s own evidence.
Cardinal Pell has stridently denied any knowledge of Ridsdale’s offending until the early 1990s.
The inquiry heard Ridsdale’s sexual behaviour was raised at a high-level church meeting in 1982 which Cardinal Pell attended.
“It is submitted it was the common understanding of the meeting that complaints that Ridsdale had sexually abused children was the reason it had become necessary to move him,” counsel assisting said in its submission.
The counsel assisting the commission also stated they believed the evidence of survivor Tim Green who said he told Cardinal Pell Dowlan was "touching little boys" at Ballarat's Eureka Pool in 1974.
They rejected Cardinal Pell's submission it did not occur, arguing he may have forgotten it.
Counsel assisting found there was insufficient evidence Cardinal Pell tried to bribe or silence the nephew and victim of Ridsdale.
David Ridsdale told the royal commission he phoned Pell in 1993 to tell him about the abuse but instead of offering help he tried to silence him.
He said Pell asked “what would it take” for him to keep quiet about the abuse.
Mr Ridsdale said he responded: “F— you George and everything you stand for.”
The counsel assisting said the story should be rejected.
The inquiry was also told to reject another allegation Cardinal Pell was overheard telling another priest Ridsdale was “r..ting boys again” and claims the Cardinal slammed the door in the face of a Ballarat schoolboy who reported abuse to him.
But counsel assisting rejected Cardinal Pell's evidence he was intentionally deceived by officials from the Catholic Education Office about former Doveton priest Peter Searson.
Cardinal Pell was told about Searson's bizarre behaviour in 1989, when he was an auxiliary bishop.
But he told inquiry reports of Searson abusing animals and going to the children's toilets were not enough for him to act.
The inquiry previously heard Searson threatened a girl with a knife and killed a bird with a screwdriver in front of children.
"It was incumbent on Cardinal Pell, having regard to his responsibilities as Auxiliary Bishop, including for the welfare of children in the parish, to take such action as he could to advocate that Searson be removed or suspended, or, at least, that a thorough investigation be undertaken,” the counsel assisting said in its submission.
The Cardinal also submitted a strong denial to allegations levelled against him in a 71-page submission released on Monday.
It comes just days after Victoria Police confirmed three of its Taskforce SANO detectives had flown to Rome to interview the Cardinal about child abuse allegations.
Cardinal Pell strongly denied the allegations.