THE former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne and of Sydney,
Cardinal George Pell, has offended not only the supporters of
sexual-abuse survivors, but also truck-drivers, in his appearance
before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses
to Child Sexual Abuse.
Cardinal Pell, now Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy at
the Vatican, contributed though a video link to the Commission's
meeting in Melbourne this week. He told the inquiry that, although
the Church had a moral obligation to victims, it did not
necessarily have legal responsibility for abuse committed by its
priests. He said that if a truck driver "picks up some lady, and
then molests her", it was not appropriate for the driver's company
to be held responsible.
Justice Peter McClellan, who chairs the Commission, responded
that the relationship between a priest and a child, where the
priest had been given access to the child by the parents, was quite
different from that of a truck-driver and a casual passenger.
Cardinal Pell conceded that that was the case.
The father of two girls who had been raped by a priest described
the analogy with truck drivers as "ludicrous". A spokeswoman for
the Australian Trucking Association said that the Cardinal had
insulted every truck-driver in Australia.
The Commission, which was due to conclude its hearings by the
end of next year, is seeking a two-year extension. An estimated
4000 people have so far sought private hearings with the