Cardinal George Pell, Australia's most powerful Catholic Church official, is facing growing scrutiny amidst a national inquiry into priest sex abuse. Pell, featured on the front page of Tuesday's edition of Sydney-based The Daily Telegraph, is being forced to testify over several days in the Royal Commission probe into decades of alleged abuse of children by priests.
The 74-year-old former Archbishop of Sydney, who currently serves as the Vatican's finance chief, is appearing via video link from Rome about his knowledge of child sex abuse among the clergy.
On the third day of the inquiry, Pell said that he'd been "kept in the dark" about the events, but also admitting to have made "enormous mistakes" in trying to deal with the problem.
Pell's insistence that he was lied to about the occurance of pedophile priests has been slammed as "implausible", and the Royal Commission has warned him that he could be held responsible if he had knowledge of sexual crimes being covered up.
When confronted today with the crimes of notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, the Cardinal's response elicited audible gasps from observers back in Sydney: "It's a sad story and it wasn't of much interest to me. I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of evils Ridsdale had perpetrated."
The inquiry in Australia comes as the Academy Awards honored the American movie "Spotlight" about The Boston Globe's explosive disclosure of clergy sexual abuse. The top Church official in Boston at the time, Cardinal Bernard Law, also initially claimed to not know about abuse. Law was eventually forced to resign his post in Boston.