Secret evidence may reveal how much Pell knew
THE Catholic Church could face new revelations involving George Pell's knowledge of the abuse undertaken by the nation's worst paedophile priests.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has confirmed he is in talks with Victorian Police and is considering releasing secret findings from the child sex abuse Royal Commission relating to Pell's evidence.
At the time, the commission's findings were heavily redacted so they did not influence the police investigations into Pell's sexual assaults on the two Melbourne choirboys and other alleged acts against boys in a Ballarat swimming pool which have since been dropped.
Pell was warned during the commission's hearings he could "be seen as culpable" for the abuse of hundreds of children by his former housemate Gerald Ridsdale, if the commission found he had known and done nothing.
He infamously walked side-by-side with Ridsdale into court in 1993 after Ridsdale was convicted of sexual abuse and indecent assault charges against 65 children as young as four.
He was also accused of knowing about paedophile Father Peter Searson, who was moved around to three Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese parishes in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, took a gun to school, killed animals and showed children a body in a coffin.
Pell was also quizzed about his knowledge of paedophile Brother Edward Dowlan from the Christian Brothers' St Patrick's School in Ballarat and Monsignor John Day in Mildura.
The matters cannot yet be detailed but it is understood they relate to the hearings into Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat, where Pell was appointed assistant priest in January 1973, and Melbourne, where he was appointed an auxiliary bishop in March 1987.
He shared a house with Ridsdale for nine months in 1973.
Ridsdale's nephew, David Ridsdale, told the royal commission that in 1993, Pell was the first person he had told about his abuse by his uncle and accused Pell of trying to bribe him by saying: "I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet."
A former alter boy told the commission that he overheard Pell commenting to another priest before a funeral in September 1983: "I think Gerry's been rooting boys again".
Pell denied a suggestion from counsel assisting the commission that he had been aware that during the 1970s and early 1980s that the-then bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, was sending Ridsdale for treatment for sexual offending.
He horrified victims during the commission when asked about Ridsdale's offending and said: "It's a sad story but it wasn't of much interest to me."
He said: "The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that, but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evils that Ridsdale had perpetrated.''
The commission heard that by 1982, police, priests and senior church officials all knew about Ridsdale's offending.
Documents tendered to the commission showed Pell was among the Victorian diocese's council of consultors who met that year when Bishop Mulkearns told them "it had become necessary for Father Gerald Ridsdale to move" again.
Another Ballarat boy, Timothy Green, told the commission that in late 1974, when he was aged 12 or 13, he saw Pell at the town's Eureka swimming pool and decided to tell him about the abuse by Brother Edward Dowlan at the Christian Brothers' St Patricks school.
Mr Green said he had told Pell "Brother Dowlan is touching little boys" and Pell said "Don't be so ridiculous" and walked out.
"His reaction gave me the impression that he knew about Brother Dowlan but couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it," Mr Green said.
The commission's report into Searson is heavily blacked out. As auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Pell was bishop for the southern region, which included Searson's parish of Doveton, in Melbourne's southeast.
Pell blamed the Catholic Education Office for covering up Searson's offending. He told the commission he knew about some of Searson's behaviour in 1989 but that reports of his abusing animals and using the children's toilets were not sufficient to act against him and it was not his responsibility.
Pell placed Searson on administrative leave in March 1997 and Searson died in 2009 without being charged with child sex abuse.
Pell admitted to the royal commission that when he returned to Australia in 1971 after studying overseas, he had "probably heard some discussion and gossip" about Monsignor John Day at Mildura about how "he was accused of some sort of paedophilia activity" but Mildura was a long way from his parish at Swan Hill.
In its final report, the royal commission said: " … in our Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat and Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne case studies, we redacted material that might prejudice relevant criminal proceedings."
A spokeswoman for the federal attorney-general said yesterday: "Unredacted reports of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will not be released until Victorian authorities have confirmed that all relevant legal matters have been finalised."