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Pope adviser accused of inaction over sex abuse

2 March 2016 11:42


Pope Francis’ chief financial adviser has been accused of failing to act on horrific and incessant child abuse by two Australian priests decades ago despite allegedly knowing about them.

The adviser, Australian Cardinal George Pell, is attending an ongoing investigation by the Canberra-appointed Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He is testifying to the commission via video conference from a hotel in Rome.

On Wednesday, Gail Furness, the lead counsel assisting the commission, accused the 74-year-old cleric of having had knowledge of the pedophile activities of priests Gerald Ridsdale and Peter Searson but denying the knowledge as an explanation for his lack of action.

Ridsdale is in prison on convictions of abusing more than 50 children. The church substantiated four complaints of child sexual abuse against Searson, who died in 2009.

Pell and Ridsdale were in the same diocese in the southeastern Australia city of Ballarat in the 1970s. Pell was an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne in the early 1990s, when Searson committed the offenses.

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