How can his memory be so foggy? Abuse victims outraged by Pell’s unclear testimony 470



View Profile

Victims of sexual abuse have been waiting for this moment for so long – the moment the highest Catholic leader in Australia tells his versions of events that go back over 40 years in the Church.

However it wasn’t to be the confession they were hoping for: Cardinal George Pell said his memory was foggy and couldn’t recall a number of key dates.

There was one date he did say he “suspected” others were committing child abuse – around 1973.

Under questioning via videolink from Rome, Cardinal Pell said a child at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat told him about a Christian Brother called Edward Dowlan sometime during or after 1973. “There were one or two fleeting references … to misbehaviour by Dowlan, which I concluded might have been pedophilia activity,” Cardinal Pell told the commission, reports The Australian.

But it was was far as he was willing to go against the Church that has been his safety net for many years.

While the cardinal did not name the boy who told him this, he added: “I remembered him as a good and honest lad and I didn’t think he’d be … telling lies”.

This account contrasts with that given in other evidence to the commission. One former St Patrick’s pupil, Timothy Green, said he confronted ­Cardinal Pell in late 1974 saying “Brother Dowlan is touching ­little boys”.

“Father Pell said ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ and walked out,” Mr Green’s statement said.

Mr Green’s statement said, “Archbishop Pell is quoted as saying ‘At a distance of 28 years, I have no recollection of any such conversation. If I was approached and thought the stories plausible, I would have informed the Christian Brothers.

“Essentially, Pell denied that I had told him about Dowlan, and denied any knowledge of sexual abuse in Ballarat.”

Cardinal Pell asked St Patrick’s College’s school chaplain “if there’s any truth in [the allegations]” and he was told, “yes, there are problems … but I think the Brothers have got the matter in hand”, the commission heard.

Sadly, Dowlan was able to continue his work at Christian Brothers schools for nearly 20 years before being convicted for abusing boys in his care, the commission has heard.

Another Catholic teacher at the school, Leo Fitzgerald, was known to kiss the pupils goodbye and to take some swimming naked, Cardinal Pell said.

Cardinal Pell, said “People were aware of it and they weren’t insisting that anything be done”, when questioned about Leo Fitzgerald, who kissed pupils and took them swimming naked.

There were 14 Ballarat child abuse victims in Rome to watch Cardinal Pell after a medical issue prevented him from travelling back to Australia.

David Ridsdale, whose uncle Gerald was a pedophile priest, said: “We need the hierarchy of the Vatican to stand up and take responsibility and not hide behind legal processes. Please, we don’t want to see survivors in 50 years; we want to be the last survivors”.

Back in Ballarat, more than 60 people gathered in the Trench Room at Ballarat Town Hall to watch Cardinal Pell’s testimony.

Cardinal George Pell’s testimony was 45 minutes in when he acknowledged that his recollections would be hazy and his memory might fail him in this hearing.

“I can’t remember,” Cardinal Pell said when questioned.

“I’m struggling to remember,” he said later.

“I can’t clearly recall,” he said.
Tim Lane, 44, was abused in his home as a child and wanted to hear Cardinal Pell on Monday.

“I was four when I was abused. I’m now 44. And I remember it vividly,” Lane told The Age. “I remember every detail. And they were grown men but they remember nothing? I don’t accept that.”

Gerard Morrow, 59, was first abused when he was 11, at De La Salle College in Malvern.

“They just keep giving us continual denials and ‘I don’t remember’ and ‘I don’t recall’. And what drives me nuts is we’ve gotta recall it,” he said. “If they put us on the stand, we’ve gotta remember what the dates were, what happened, how did it happen. They just go, ‘I don’t recall’, ‘I’m too old’, ‘I’m having a senior citizen moment’. It’s pretty much what I expected. Which wasn’t much.”

Tim Lane stood in Ballarat Town Hall and said, “It’s everything I expected. The memory loss. The little tricks to get away with it. They haven’t gotten away with it though, because even if man misses it, He doesn’t”.

Pell’s hearing in the royal commission will continue today, Wednesday and possibly Thursday.

Tell us, should Pell be more considerate of the victims who are watching and give more accurate recollections? Do you think he knows more?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. How very convenient for him not to remember ? !

    1 REPLY
    • I think he is a low life hypocrite , and so is the vatican for letting him and allthe other pediphiles get away with it….how bloody christian of them .

  2. I think he needs to be very honest , the eyes of Australia and The world are watching. I have also notice people like Andrew Bolt are coming out trying to justify this, there is justification for child abuse. Bolt is making statements like the abuse in aboriginal communities. All this is a distraction so you take your focus off this shocking case of abuse . It is a case look over there 👉 NO look over here 👈 look anywhere but at the real issue

    25 REPLY
    • Just watching Bolt do exactly that on the Today show. (no signal on 7 or I wouldn’t be watching 9)

    • Colleen Williams I agree with you, this issue needs to be dealt with and Pell needs to be a man and take responsibility for his actions on this issue, there is NO hiding this anymore, those days are well and truly over

    • Bolt is only worth listening to for entertainment value. His statements are otherwise mindless ravings. The ‘well they did it more’ argument is not acceptable when reprimanding a child for a fault, so why it should be considered appropriate for an adult is beyond my comprehension.

    • Agree with you Libbi, this Pell has to be brought down along with probably half the Catholic Church – sickens me beyond words

    • So agree Libbi.
      And if people like Bolt are saying there is more abuse in Aboriginal communities then they also need to acknowledge that the vast majority of Aboriginal communities were set up and run by the catholic church!!!!

    • No matter white or black things like this shouldn’t happen to kids or anyone from people they should be able to trust. Priests, nuns or otherwise

    • It will never stop, in the church or anywhere else in society, as long as there are sick individuals who prey on kids, unfortunately it’s everywhere. 😢😢😢

    • Deborah Drinan His title is Cardinal Pell. How do you expect respect, when you give none

      1 REPLY
      • His title is man made – to emphasise his power. If he is meant to be a representative of his god and act in a “god like” manner he needs no title or rich robes. His arrogance leaves us breathless. He hides behind his belief in an imaginary person – yet will not put himself in the shoes of those who have suffered heinous abuse from his fellow brethren. Respect? No way. He speaks for an institution that obscenely wealthy yet he set up a scheme to cap “payments” of $5000 to children who had been abused with the proviso they remained silent. Respect? To return your words Eva – how do you expect respect when you give none.

    • Eva Kershaw This man deserves no respect from anyone. His behaviour has shown his true nature. He is an evil man protecting evil men and an evil organisation.

    • Eva Kershaw
      Respect is earned.
      A title does not give anyone the automatic right to respect.
      If you believe that Pell should be given respect then it follows that you also believe it is okay that what he did and the coverups he organised with regard to physical sexual and mental abuse of children.
      Only people with very sick minds and habits would think this was okay…..

    • Power and privilege, a couple of dangerous combinations. This man uses both to the hilt. Does anyone remember how Father Bob used to speak about “George”, with a tone of scathing sarcasm? If I remember correctly, as Father Bob’s popularity with the general public grew, George was trying to shut him down.

    • Julie Garton I remember, not enough father Bobs that’s for sure, this man is a true Christian priest. 🙂🌺

    • Eva kershaw forget what his title is “hes just a man” and a sinner to the enth degree by not protecting little children

    • To quote Bolt ” As archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 Pell created the first compensation scheme for abuse victims of any Australian Church, called for a national compensation fund run by the government, with the guilty made to pay”

    • Judi Kelly and they are still trying to get some form of closure, 20yrs on. Interesting 😢😢

    • Lee, just did a quick Google, Pell was behind removing Father Bob from his parish of 38 years. So….George doesn’t like losing out in a popularity contest… you get rid of the irritant! Wonder how he’s going to fare after his appearance at the inquiry? Or will he slink back to the Vatican, rewrite history, and pretend it never happened?

    • Complaints about a paedophile priest were “common knowledge” in the Catholic community and among two senior clergy members but Cardinal George Pell did not have “much interest” in them, he told a royal commission.

  3. This whole affair makes me angry. What makes me even angrier is the assumption by the media that we all want to be bombarded with all the crap surrounding it.

    7 REPLY
    • Maybe if one of your children was abused by one of these scums you may think differently!

    • Justice will never be served unless we know what is happening and the public show their disgust and contempt

    • You may not want to know Rod but I do , I was victim myself of the Catholic Church, in my early teens and even though I am in my 60’s now, I have never forgotten it

    • You are ️A hypocrite, so disgusted that you do not believe these wounded victims should have the truth told.Religion is a farce, if these so called “Men of God”Are covering up the most discussing of all betrayal, the abuse of innocent children.Go bury your head back in the sand.😡😡😡😡😡😡😡👹👹👹

  4. Protect the church Pell and not yourself there is nothing Catholic about him, how can he possibly call himself a man of God

  5. And this man who has ” memory loss” is in charge of the Vatican finances. PLEASE

    1 REPLY
    • I agree…. disgusting… Why would any sensible business put such a person I charge of their finances????

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *