Cardinal Pell Offers to Meet Abuse Survivors

Cardinal George Pell has said he is willing to meet privately with abuse survivors on Thursday and will assist them in meeting Pope Francis.

In a statement released by his office Wednesday morning, the Australian cardinal said he would be “happy to meet privately with survivors” if it would “be of help to them.”

The statement said the prefect for the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy hoped the meetings “might be helpful and contribute to healing” and that he would be meet them “either individually or in smaller groups, as he has done many times in the past.”

The abuse survivors have been requesting to meet the cardinal since they arrived in Rome to observe him testify to a commission investigating child sex abuse.

The statement also said the cardinal would be “happy to assist with requests to meet Pope Francis,” and that he has arranged for a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to meet with survivors on Thursday morning.

Giving evidence from Rome's Hotel Quirinale for a third day, Cardinal Pell told the inquiry he believed information on abuse by another accused pedophile priest, Father Peter Searson, was being kept from him because he would have acted on it.

"They realized very clearly I was not cut from the same cloth," he told the commission. He said he believed the Catholic Education Office “would have been fearful” that he would have “asked all sorts of inconvenient questions if I'd been better briefed."

Counsel assisting the inquiry dismissed this explanation as “completely implausible”, to which Cardinal Pell replied: “I can only tell you the truth. The whole story of Searson is quite implausible, and the cover-up is equally implausible. I can only tell you the way it was as far as I'm concerned.”

The cardinal is expected to testify tonight on the fourth and final day of the hearing at 10p.m. Rome time.  

Full transcript of third day.

See previous reports on the hearing here and here