Cardinal George Pell says he is surprised by royal commission findings that he knew a pedophile priest was moved because of sex abuse allegations and failed to push for another's removal.
The royal commission rejected Cardinal Pell's evidence that he was deceived and lied to by Catholic Church officials about the two pedophile priests and noted he was aware of child sexual abuse by clergy in the early 1970s.
Cardinal Pell says he was surprised by some of the child abuse royal commission's views about his actions.
"These views are not supported by evidence," he said in a statement on Thursday.
The former Vatican treasurer and Melbourne and Sydney archbishop was "especially surprised" by the findings about what he knew about Gerald Ridsdale, now known to be Australia's worst pedophile priest.
Ridsdale was repeatedly moved between parishes by former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who knew about his offending.
Cardinal Pell, who at times was one of the bishop's advisers, had maintained he did not know about Ridsdale abusing children until the early 1990s.
But the royal commission found it was likely Cardinal Pell knew of Ridsdale's sexual transgressions at a 1977 consultors' meeting.
The commission also rejected Cardinal Pell's claim that Bishop Mulkearns lied to or deceived his advisers in 1982 when Ridsdale was removed from the parish of Mortlake.
Cardinal Pell said the consultors who gave evidence about the meetings in 1977 and 1982 either said they did not learn of Ridsdale's offending against children until much later or they had no recollection of what was discussed.
"None said they were made aware of Ridsdale's offending at these meetings."
Cardinal Pell said he left the Diocese of Ballarat and therefore his position as a consultor at the end of 1984.
The royal commission also rejected Cardinal Pell's evidence that he was deceived by Catholic education officials about Melbourne priest Peter Searson.
A 1989 delegation of Doveton teachers told Cardinal Pell, then an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne, about Searson harassing children, staff and parents, showing children a body in coffin and animal cruelty, among other complaints.
Cardinal Pell said the delegation did not mention sexual assaults and did not ask for Searson's removal.
The commission found Cardinal Pell should have urged Archbishop Frank Little to take action against Searson.
After his appointment as Melbourne archbishop in August 1996, Cardinal Pell placed Searson on administrative leave before removing him from the parish in 1997.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thankyou very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.