Pell to testify at abuse inquiry from the ‘comfort’ of Rome
Abuse survivor groups have expressed anger over today’s decision to allow Cardinal George Pell to give video link evidence to the child abuse Royal Commission in Australia.
According to this report, commissioner Peter McClellan has accepted an Italian doctor’s evidence he is too sick to fly. He revealed the Italian report said Cardinal Pell was suffering high blood pressure and ischemic heart disease complicated by a previous heart attack.
The report said a long plane journey:
Could induce an episode of heart failure and were this to occur during a flight it would also be difficult to treat.
Abuse victims’ support group Broken Rites was sceptical of the report, with spokesman Bernard Barrett saying Cardinal Pell had been:
Hostile towards the commission from day one. Now, he refuses to re-visit Australia to give evidence in person, citing health reasons. Yet he was healthy enough to fly to Australia on a private trip last year.
Care Leavers Australia Network Executive Officer Leonie Sheedy also questioned why Cardinal Pell was able to visit his former school, St Patrick’s College in Ballarat last year.
All the victims have had to appear personally but Cardinal Pell, he gets to be in the comfort of his suite in the Vatican. It’s not an arduous journey to travel on an airplane first class.
Pell will now give evidence via video link over three days from February 29, after the commission’s hearing into abuse of children in the Victorian dioceses of Ballarat and Melbourne begins on February 22.
The former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, has also been ordered to give evidence and will be questioned via video link because he, too, has health problems. Justice McClellan said a doctor had assessed Bishop Mulkearns as seriously ill with bowel cancer and kidney disease and also suffering from poor memory and anxiety.
Bishop Mulkearns is in a Ballarat nursing home and able to walk only short distances with a walking frame, the commission was told.