Vatican treasurer George Pell admitted Sunday that the Roman Catholic Church had “mucked things up” as he became the highest-ranking church official to testify on sexual abuse.
Giving evidence in front of abuse victims, the Australian cardinal said the organization reflected society as a whole and there was a “tendency to evil in the Catholic Church, too.”
“TOO MANY PEOPLE HAVE COMMITTED SUICIDE FOR THESE ABUSES”
He held up a bible as he took the oath in a Rome hotel room where he began to give evidence by video link to Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.
Pell was expected to clarify whether he knew that a number of priests were abusing children in the diocese near Melbourne where he served as a senior priest and vicar between 1973 and 1983. Among them was Australia’s most notorious pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, with whom Pell shared a house and who has been convicted for abusing more than 50 children over three decades.
Pell is not facing criminal charges, but his position as the Vatican’s economic secretary could become untenable if inquiry finds evidence that he either ignored or protected abusers. He is considered the third most powerful clergyman in the Vatican, after Pope Francis and the Secretary of State.
“I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” he said at the start of his testimony. “The Church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those, but the Church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has let people down.”