The Mail Online (UK)
- George Pell has asked for apology from child abuse victim Peter Saunders
- Mr Saunders slammed Cardinal Pell as ‘dangerous’ on 60 Minutes program
- He called on Pope Francis to ‘take the strongest action’ against Pell
- Victims gave evidence Pell bribed them for silence and ignored complaints
- Pell’s spokesperson described claims as ‘outrageous’ and ‘misleading’
- 60 Minutes journalist Tara Brown hit back saying church was ‘out of touch’
Australia’s highest ranking Catholic threatening legal action has not stopped the 60 Minutes TV program from hitting back at Cardinal George Pell and his fellow leaders across the country.
Child sex abuse victim Peter Saunders, who was handpicked by Pope Francis to sit on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, broke his silence on last Sunday’s show about his thoughts on Cardinal Pell describing him as ‘dangerous’ and claiming his position was ‘untenable’.
Despite turning down invitations from 60 Minutes to respond to the damning remarks, Cardinal Pell remained tight-lipped – until after the show aired when a spokesperson stated that he was left with no choice but to seek legal advice.
Following last week’s 60 Minutes show, Cardinal George Pell has asked for Peter Saunders to apologise
Mr Saunders (pictured) described Cardinal Pell as ‘dangerous’ and said his position was ‘untenable‘
‘The false and misleading claims made against His Eminence are outrageous,’ the statement said.
‘From his earliest action as an Archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse. There is no excuse for broadcasting incorrect and prejudicial material.’
But 60 Minutes journalist Tara Brown claimed otherwise and launched a scathing attack on Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Church within Australia on this Sunday’s program.
‘The Catholic Church in Australia stands in crisis,’ Brown announced at the beginning of the show.
‘The men who lead it have put themselves on a collision course with the victims of child sexual abuse by expressing their unfailing support for George Pell.’
Cardinal Pell has been under fire since allegations that he turned a blind eye to abuse resurfaced last week at the royal commission into child sexual abuse in Ballarat of Victoria.
Brown then went onto deny any inaccuracies in last week’s story.
‘There was nothing factually incorrect with our story, there was nothing prejudicial about our story,’ Brown said.
‘Indeed all of the allegations we broadcast have been raised inside the Royal Commission.
‘Even the chief executive of the Church’s own Truth Justice and Healing Council Francis Sullivan said Pell needs to be cross-examined.’
Cardinal Pell’s spokesperson said Mr Saunder’s claims were ‘outrageous’ and ‘misleading’
Journalist Tara Brown hit back saying the Catholic Church was ‘out of touch’ and in ‘crisis’ mode
The program referred back to a 2002 interview with George Pell when he denied ever being shown a photo of a girl who had self-harmed after being sexually abused by a priest.
But asked about the same photo during a royal commission inquiry in 2013, Cardinal Pell admitted he probably had seen the image before.
Brown mentioned that the Archbishops of Australia released a statement describing Cardinal Pell as a ‘man of integrity who is committed to the truth and to helping others.’
The show even went to the lengths of listing all of the Australian archbishops who are supporting Cardinal Pell which was all except for Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson who last month ‘pleaded not guilty to concealing child abuse by a fellow priest.’
Brown said Cardinal Pell’s lawyers sent a letter to Mr Saunders referencing the statements from other Australian archbishops and asking him to withdraw his comments on Thursday.
The reporter described the past week since the program aired as a ‘coordinated campaign to defend’ to defend Cardinal Pell.
‘Once again the hierarchy of the Catholic church is out of touch and closing ranks,’ she said.
‘Despite all of their rhetoric they have forgotten what matters most here: the victims, the victims want to be heard, they want to be listened to and most importantly they want to be believed but the bishops, arhcbishops, and Cardinal Pell have given every indication that it’s unlikely to happen.’
On Monday, the Royal Commission announced Cardinal Pell will be asked to appear at the next Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearing in Ballarat later this year.
Mr Saunders, who is a victim of sexual abuse himself, broke his silence about Cardinal Pell
Cardinal Pell has been accused of bribing abused victims to keep quiet and ignoring complaints
Commissioner for the protection of children slams Cardinal Pell
Mr Saunders didn’t hold back in his interview slamming Cardinal Pell’s actions and describing him as a ‘callousness and cold-heartedness’ in last week’s program.
‘I personally think that his position is untenable, because he has now a catalogue of denials,’ Mr Saunders said in an extraordinary interview which aired on Sunday night.
‘He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic, I would go as far as to say – this lack of care.’
Following the developments of allegations made against Pell, Mr Saunders described his actions as a ‘danger’ to child sexual abuse victims.
‘I would go as far as to say that I consider him to be quite a dangerous individual,’ he said.
Mr Saunders, who is a victim of child sexual abuse himself, has also called on Pope Francis to ‘take the strongest action’ against Australia’s most senior catholic, Cardinal Pell.
‘I think it’s critical that George Pell is moved aside, that he is sent back to Australia, and that the Pope takes the strongest action against him,’ he said.
‘He is making a mockery of the Pope himself, but most of all of the victims and the survivors.
‘More importantly, anybody who is a serious obstacle to the work of the commission and to the work of the Pope in trying to clean up the church’s act over this matter needs to be taken aside very quickly and removed from any kind of position of influence.’
Abused victims called on Cardinal Pell last week to front the royal commission following several allegations
Abused victims called on Pell last week to front the royal commission following several claims he ignored warnings about Australia’s worst pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale.
They also gave evidence, claiming Pell had bribed them to keep quiet, ignored complaints and was complicit in moving Ridsdale to a different parish.
Cardinal Pell told the commission he would co-operate with the investigations and would attend the hearings if he was asked to do so.
STATEMENT BY SPOKESPERSON FOR CARDINAL GEORGE PELL
The Cardinal has not met and has not been approached by Peter Saunders.
Cardinal George Pell knows of the important work Mr Saunders has done as a survivor of abuse to assist victims, including the establishment of a victims survivors group in the United Kingdom and more recently serving as member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors established by the Holy Father to develop policy to achieve this.
While members are of course entitled to their views and opinions, the recently approved Statutes of the Commission make it clear that the Commission’s role does not include commenting on individual cases, nor does the Commission have the capacity to investigate individual cases.
From the promotional material issued by 60 Minutes it seems clear Mr Saunders is not well informed about the claims made against Cardinal Pell in the Ballarat hearings of the Royal Commission and the fact that no new material emerged during recent hearings. Many of the issues were addressed in the final report of the 2013 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry where there are no adverse findings against Cardinal Pell. These old and repeated allegations have been addressed many times by the Cardinal since 2002.
As was pointed out in a recent statement by the Cardinal, he has never condoned or protected offenders, has never condoned or participated in moving known offenders and did not at any time attempt to bribe David Ridsdale, whose story has varied many times over the years.
It is not clear whether Mr Saunders is aware of the Cardinal’s statements or has reviewed the extensive material available from previous Inquiries and appearances at the Royal Commission. It is also not clear if Mr Saunders is aware Cardinal Pell established within 100 days of being appointed as an Archbishop, an independent scheme to support victims. While there was and is always room for improvement, the Melbourne Response had the explicit support of the Victorian Police and other civil authorities and was at the time warmly welcomed by victim support groups.
The Cardinal has repeated many times his deepest sympathy for the victims of abuse and their families. He has made it clear on several occasions he supports the work of the Royal Commission, where he has already appeared twice, and remains willing to assist in its work.
Source: 60 Minutes
Cardinal Pell’s lawyer urges Saunders to withdraw ‘false allegations’
Catholic World News – June 08, 2015
A lawyer representing Cardinal George Pell has asked Peter Saunders to withdraw “false allegations” against the prelate that he made on an Australian television broadcast.
In his letter to Saunders, attorney Richard Leder said that the comments Saunders made during a “60 Minutes” broadcast were “either uninformed as to the relevant history, or were deliberately selective.” Saunders, a member of the papal commission on sexual abuse, had charged Cardinal Pell with having displayed a hostile attitude toward sex-abuse victims.
Leder said that during the “60 Minutes” interview, Saunders had presented himself as a spokesman for the papal commission, creating the misleading impression that “you made the comments in an official capacity.”
The lawyer’s letter reminded Saunders that Cardinal Pell has twice testified before royal commission investigating sexual abuse in Australia, and has “refuted on oath the various allegations which you chose to repeat on ‘60 Minutes.’” Leder went on to say:
The cardinal is concerned that you knew, or should have known at the time, that each of those matters was factually wrong, and before speaking, you should have made proper enquiries to ensure your opinions were based on reliable information.
The wording of the lawyer’s letter, suggesting that Saunders showed a disregard for the truth, left open the possibility of legal action if Saunders refused to retract his statements.
In Australia, however, the journalist responsible for the “60 Minutes” report stood behind the accuracy of the broadcast. “There was nothing factually incorrect with our story,” said Tara Brown. “There was nothing prejudicial about our story.”