The impact of Cardinal Pell’s acquittal on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The High Court decision handed down last week clears the way for the full release of unpublished findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which referred to Cardinal Pell.

Although the Royal Commission published its final report in 2019 the sections of the report detailing its findings in relation to Cardinal Pell and his evidence were heavily redacted.

The Royal Commission heard evidence from Cardinal Pell from Rome about what he may have known about paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale and the offending of other priests that were being investigated by the Royal Commission.

Cardinal Pell was questioned by the Royal Commission over a series of days and was asked about his knowledge of crimes committed by Monsignor John Day, former Christian Brother Ted Dowlan and priest Peter Searson (who died in 2009 (without facing charges).

Cardinal Pell was also asked by the Royal Commission to account for and/or explain the rigid approach adopted by the Catholic Church when dealing with sexual abuse claims when he was Archbishop of Sydney.

Now all avenues of appeal have been concluded Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter can table the Royal Commission’s unredacted reports in Parliament though it is expected that this could take a number of weeks before the previously redacted findings are made public.

Mr. Porter has said he would work with his state counterparts to release more of the Royal Commission’s final report.

Mr. Porter said “It does require some liaison between my office and Victorian authorities, investigative and prosecutorial, to make sure that further tabling with less redaction would not prejudice any future investigations of a number of types.” He said he expected that process would take “a couple of weeks”.  Mr. Porter went on to say that “My strong preference is to have as much of the information that has been redacted tabled with less redaction,”

We will address the findings of the Royal Commission vis-à-vis Cardinal Pell once they have been made public.


Written by Sharon Moohan at BLM

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