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Cardinal Pell offends survivors and truckers

29 August 2014


Scrutiny: Justice Peter McClellan hears evidence at a Commission sitting, in April

Scrutiny: Justice Peter McClellan hears evidence at a Commission sitting, in April

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 Commission.

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