Cardinal George Pell has met personally with survivors 227



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Overnight Cardinal George Pell has met with survivors and pledged to help those “wounded by the scourge of sexual abuse”.  The emotion was raw and personal according to survivor David Risdale who has led the group of people from Ballarat whom have travelled to Rome.

“We’ve just had an extremely emotional meeting with Cardinal Pell,” Mr Risdale said. “We met on a level playing field, we met as people of Ballarat.”
It might have been a simple step, but it is clear that this meeting has had more effect on the sufferers than his four days of testimony.

Pell spoke to the media on the steps of a Rome hotel. This was his statement.

I have just met with the Ballarat group of survivors, support people and officials.

I’ve heard each of their stories and of their suffering.

It was hard and honest and occasionally emotional meeting. I am committed to working with these people from Ballarat and surrounding areas. I know many of their families and I know of the goodness of so many people in Catholic Ballarat, a goodness which is not extinguished by the evil that was done.

We all want try to make things better actually and on the ground. Especially for the survivors and their families.

And I undertake to continue to help the group work effectively with the committees and agencies that we have here in the church in Rome, and especially the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

One suicide is too many. Too many. And there have been many such tragic suicides. I commit myself to working with the group that is trying to stop this, so that suicide is not seen as an option for those who are suffering.

I too, despite the separation of distance want to help make Ballarat a model and a better place for healing and for peace.

Now I shouldn’t promise what might be impossible. We all know how hard it is to get things done. But I do want it known that I support the work to investigate the feasibility of a research centre to enhance healing and to improve protection.

The church-going people of the Ballarat diocese are known for their loyalty and for their charity and I urge them to continue to cooperate with the survivors to improve the situation.

I owe a lot to the people and community of Ballarat, I acknowledge that with deep gratitude. It would be marvellous if our city became well known as an effective centre for the example of practical help for all those wounded by the scourge of sexual abuse.

Do you think his empathy might have helped victims if offered earlier in the process?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. It does not change my opinion. Talk is cheap. Too little, too late. The time to stand up and be counted was when he became aware of the abuse all those years ago. No credibility and I hope that he has not given these traumatised people false hope.

    3 REPLY
    • I think it’s timely to point out that which came out yesterday….when Pell was in a position to act against Searson, he did and tried to get him defrocked and kicked out..and it was denied by the Vatican!

    • Pat Bates Obviously didn’t try hard enough. He should have gone to the police. He put his own interests before the tiny victims. As he said himself, ‘he wasn’t interested.’

  2. It will take more than a meeting to heal the pain, these survivors feel, 5,000 Australian victims and many have committed suicide. This church has destroyed lives and Pell by his total indifference and negligence has aided and abetted that. It is time this Church put children first instead of last on the list

    9 REPLY
    • You have to start somewhere and isnt this what the survivors w a nted by the way I dont thi k the Catholic Church or Cardinal Pell are reponsible for 5000 suicides

    • fay 5,000 children have been sexually abused by pedophile priests in Australia and MANY have committed suicide . I never said the whole 5,000 did , but one victim is one victim too many, this church has caused a lot of pain not only in Australia but World Wide. If you are a Catholic, then Fay there is NO defense of this

    • In light of Pell’s total indifference during his testimony, I am amazed at his sudden compassion. I think he’s had the equivilent of a slap on the back of the head from someone and been told to meet them and try to show a teeny bit of compassion. It doesn’t change my rather poor opinion of him, but I hope the victims got some satisfaction from the meeting

    • Sue he knew public opinion was against him, isn’t it amazing how much compassion you can find when the weight of Australia is sitting on your head

    • Fay Burn it’s obvious you have never been molested. The confusion, the guilt and finally the depression when you understand no-one is listening, and worse, they are covering it up. The church is responsible, it was their priests molesting these kids and they did zero, zip, zilch about it. Who would you like to blame Fay, the victims? Your sympathy and compassion is underwhelming

    • As much as I hope the victims feel that something was achieved by their meeting with Pell, I do feel this is for the media of the world, just putting out fires.

    • Rather than us knowing all how about listening to the victums. If they are happy and feel a step has been taken and that they have been listened to. Please accept their words it’s most important as for years they were not listened to so hear them now.

  3. I listened to an interview with a man from Ballarat , one quarter of his class mates have committed suicide, that can never be undone and a meeting with Pell won’t bring the dead back to life

    6 REPLY
    • I just want to cry for the children and Families that had to go through this, Unless you are a Catholic you cannot fully understand the respect that we were taught to have for these Priests, Nuns , and the Church, I grew up in London and Sunday Mass was a big event where the priest met all the Families afterwards I now know One of these Priests was found out, he was so respected by our Parents Iam sick to the stomach at hearing the stories of the Victims and their Families, us children had to go to Confession from 7 years old, we were so innocent used to make up sins like had a bad thought, said a silly thing, The priest hearing this was he a Monster will never know I was never abused myself, but feel cheated they took our innocence also because we trusted them , that part of my upbringing is now a Farce and Lie, I hope the Pope intervenes and kicks George Pell out of the Vatican and helps to build a safe envirement for the kids of today…The World is watching

      1 REPLY
      • Maggie. Well said. You have put into words what l have been thinking.

    • Maggie Geeves no your upbringing was not a farce and a lie. Remember the Church has survived inspire of the people in it not because of them. There are good and bad everywhere , in all religions and sections of the community. the biggest mistake I feel was putting clergy on a pedestal. They have feet of clay like the rest of us. There are still good people doing good work within the Catholic Church .

    • Darrell Warrington I will thank you, I rem seeing a play at theatre, Once A Catholic, I laughed, at similar things that happened at School

  4. If he has managed to actually show genuine compassion and reach out to these survivors of abuse,then that is a step forward from the detached and emotionless answers he gave on camera,to the lawyers for the abused. I seriously think the man needs a lot of help himself,and I hope such a centre for healing he envisions can be set up. The time for cover up is over,and genuine places of group healing need to be set up,not those programs which were just smoke screens to further protect the church.

    10 REPLY
    • I really think he is diving for cover to protect his precious and delicate SELF!.

    • Only thing is Ken, empathy can’t be coached! But I did notice for the first time a smile on his face and a look of satisfaction,so,some aspect of the coaching must have worked for him!

    • I think the whole world now knows the problems associated with the church he certainly didn’t think it was to get such attention from the press by having it in Rome

    • Catharine Keevill Probably standing in front of a mirror and practising looking compassionate and concerned. Academy award comes to mind.

    • Catherine, unfortunately compassion can be shown by any psychopath just observing others , and copying !!!!! x😘x

    • True also, Shale Lee,of course the windows of the Soul are the eyes,and a lot of us are attuned to read into that level, and cannot be fooled no matter how much of an Oscar performance is given,Debbie Bryant.😉

    • Totally agree Catherine .I would have to see him in person to make this decision . Wise point x😍x Thank you x I hope your right !!! Only time will tell 🤔 I’m still very sceptical !!!!!!

  5. don’t you feel sorry for Pell 🙂 he told reporters “It’s been a hard slog, at least for me. I’m a bit tired”. No one bloody cares Pell, these victims have felt used and abused for many many years. I bet they wished all they felt was tired instead of betrayed by these Pedophile Priest and The Catholic Church. Abbott’s mate Pell is looking as devious and a liar like Abbott

    13 REPLY
    • Where were the relatives of these victims they could have charged them I am sure my boys would have come to me and I’ll sure would have done something about it .One of them was a nephew of the priest.

    • Eleanore Burgess I was a victim of abuse by this Church and I never told my mother, my dad had died and she was grieving..don’t blame the parents for these pedophile priests abusing child.. may parents had no idea and many did act and were ignored by people like Pell and making comments like that and trying to justify your church is only making it look worse

    • shame on you Eleanore Burgess, these parents were good Catholics they put their trust in this evil church. You are just another Cathoilc trying to balme everyone except for these Pedo priests

    • Bite your tongue Eleanor Burgess! The Catholic Church excells at brainwashing and most parishioners would have been too frightened/intimidated to stand against them.

    • Eleanor Burgess comments like this make me so damned angry, they were kids, probably coerced, groomed and threatened, the families are not blame here it’s the bloody Catholic Church

    • Leanna Stephenson that is a true statement ” the first SENIOR Churchman to act. He was a junior priest when these abuses took place. They were hidden by people higher up than he. PARENTS and Police also turned a blind eye. But I guess in the baying for blood one just has blinkers on.

    • Eleanor Burgess The parents did speak out about the abuse and were not listened to. The same thing is still happening. Do you honestly think Pell is going to tell what he knows. Not a hope in Hell he is. He is away safe over there and he doesn’t give a hoot. Bring him back here, he does not have a heart condition because he does not have a heart.

    • You have to understand the culture of religion back then – the priest was GOD! Now days families/victims just go straight to the police – which is how it should be.

    • Trica Sexton how good of you to blame the parents of these abused children , there is a man at the Royal Commision now who had 2 daughters sexually abused by these pedo priests, one of his daughter committed suicide the other died in an accident. The parents cared, the kids were to frightened to tell ‘them

    • I think may of these people listen to much to Andrew Bolt he is defending Pell because Pell is a Liberal supporter, how low is that? Non Liberal voters kids got abused to and not only in Ballarat ..look at The Hunter Valley and that is just the tip of the iceberg

    • Rank should not be a variable when it comes to plain decency Tricia Sexton. Perhaps you need to examine why you feel so angry that people are demanding justice (not ‘baying for blood’)?! Take YOUR blinkers off please!

  6. Wouldn’t trust him as far as I can spit, nothing will change. Should have done something when it happened instead of moving these buggers to another place just to do it all over again.

    2 REPLY
    • I agree. He doesn’t care & is only saying what he thinks the victims want to hear. Would not give him the time of day

    • He has been told what he should and should not say. He knows what went on alright. You do not hang around a pedophile Priest for years and not know what he was doing. Who was hearing his confessions and those of the other ones who were interfering with the boys. He knows much more than he is letting on . i wonder if the people asking him the questions from Melbourne believe him.

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