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It is intriguing that when the topic here is the sexual abuse of children that some would like to silence or restrict that!!!
Why is that?
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  Home :: 2006 September :: Transcript: Loss of Faith - Part 2
Transcript: Loss of Faith - Part 2
June 2, 2002

Archbishop George Pell
Archbishop George Pell
RICHARD CARLETON: As you've just heard tonight — a graveallegation against the Archbishop of Sydney Dr George Pell. It wasalleged that Dr Pell sought to buy the silence of a distressed youngman who had been sexually assaulted by a priest. Here now is Dr Pell'sresponse.

STORY - RICHARD CARLETON: Archbishop, howwidespread, if at all, would you consider sexual abuse by Catholicclergy to be here in Australia now?

GEORGE PELL: I think wehave brought to light most of it. For the last five or six years we'vehad a system of protocols in place which I believe is substantiallyworking. There's much too much of it. I've apologised and I repeat myapology to the victims, but we're dealing with it...

RICHARD CARLETON: You seem to be conceding, though, that it is still going on.

GEORGE PELL: Well, human nature doesn't change. I hope that there's not too much of it going on.

RICHARD CARLETON: So you concede that some is probably going on.

GEORGEPELL: I don't really know. Anything that's brought to my attention Iwill see that it's dealt with according to the protocols.

RICHARD CARLETON: There shouldn't be any.

GEORGE PELL: There shouldn't be any, certainly not.

RICHARD CARLETON: If it was going on now, would you necessarily know about it?

GEORGE PELL: Not necessarily, no.

RICHARD CARLETON: Now, is it homosexual sex or heterosexual sex amongst the clergy that is the bigger problem?

GEORGE PELL: Most paedophilia involves young girls. With the Catholic clergy more of it involves younger men after puberty.

RICHARDCARLETON: Can you pull a number, I mean, out of the air, on the numberof Catholic clergy who have been convicted of these sort of crimes,say, over the last 10 years?

GEORGE PELL: No, I can't. I cangive you Melbourne figures, though. During my time in Melbourne we paidcompensation to 100 victims and 15 or 20 priests were stood down.

RICHARD CARLETON: Do you know this Broken Rights Group?


RICHARDCARLETON: They've put out a list here of 99 convictions — not allpriests, some brothers and Catholic employees, I suppose, to use thebroad sweep 99 in 10 years. That's about one a month.

GEORGEPELL: That's probably right. It's a sad and terrible thing. It'sprobably right. I'm not sure. But it's probably of that order.

RICHARD CARLETON: Still, today, one a month?

GEORGE PELL: No, certainly not. I don't think ... I think ... I'm hoping the worst is behind us.

RICHARDCARLETON: When you were Episcopal Vicar for education in Ballarat —that's effectively the boss of the Catholic teachers...

GEORGE PELL: Titular, the bishop's representative in the area.

RICHARD CARLETON: The buck stops with you.

GEORGEPELL: No, not really. The buck stops with either the bishop or thedirector of education. I chaired the Education Board. Very much apart-time job. I was involved, certainly.

RICHARD CARLETON: Iwant to know how much responsibility you take personally for thoseteachers under you in those 10 years that you were there who abusedtheir charges?

GEORGE PELL: I wouldn't take any directresponsibility at all because I was not aware of any accusations that Ididn't deal with.

RICHARD CARLETON: No, but wasn't it your job to know what was going on?

GEORGE PELL: Well, no, because I wasn't the executive running education.

RICHARD CARLETON: Archbishop, isn't that ducking the responsibility?

GEORGE PELL: No, it is a description of what in fact happened.

RICHARD CARLETON: What should have happened is really what I'm trying to get to.

GEORGEPELL: Well, what should have happened is another problem. I don'tapologise for any of the ... I do apologise. I don't want to pretendthat those things were always handled well, but it wasn't my bag. I wasresponsible for one area of Church life and I fulfilled myresponsibilities. In the areas where I didn't have responsibilities, Iwasn't obliged to act.

RICHARD CARLETON: Tell me, you know Father Gerald Risdale.

GEORGE PELL: I certainly do.

RICHARD CARLETON: Did you go to school with him?

GEORGE PELL: He was years ahead of me.

RICHARD CARLETON: At the same school.

GEORGEPELL: But we were at the same school. I knew him as a seminarian, knewof him as a seminarian, knew of him as a priest and for 12 months onlyI was in the same house with him.

RICHARD CARLETON: You shared a house with him.

GEORGE PELL: There were four priests that were there.

RICHARD CARLETON: So you got to know him pretty well in that time.

GEORGE PELL: Moderately.

RICHARD CARLETON: Now, I presume you didn't know at that time that he was a heinous paedophile.

GEORGE PELL: I had no idea at all. Never entered my head.

RICHARDCARLETON: How could you not know? How could you not know after going toschool with him, going to seminary with him, growing up with him,living with him.

GEORGE PELL: Nobody around there knew that.Nobody even hinted it to me. I had no idea. He survived in that rolefor years and years. He was a clever fellow and he did some dreadful,evil things.

RICHARD CARLETON: How could you not know?

GEORGE PELL: I certainly didn't know. And none of the priests around me knew either.

RICHARD CARLETON: Did you know David Risdale, Father Gerald Risdale's nephew?

GEORGE PELL: Yes, I know the Risdales, yes.

RICHARD CARLETON: Did David Risdale tell you that his uncle, Gerald, Father Gerald, had been abusing him?

GEORGE PELL: Never. Never.


GEORGE PELL: At any stage.

RICHARD CARLETON: He says he did.

GEORGE PELL: Well, that's completely false.

RICHARD CARLETON: It didn't happen?

GEORGE PELL: Didn't happen.

RICHARD CARLETON: He says that in January 93 he rang you and told you.

GEORGEPELL: Oh, well, that's 1993. I thought you were talking about back inthe '70s. Risdale would have been in jail I think by then.

RICHARD CARLETON: He went to jail in 1993, sir.

GEORGE PELL: Yes, yes. I've spoken with David off and on over the years, I've got on fairly well with him.

RICHARD CARLETON: Right. David says that he called you in January 1993 and told you about it.

GEORGE PELL: Well, that's probably true. But I was well aware of Risdale's crimes in general by 1993.

RICHARD CARLETON: And when he rang you in January 1993 you offered him a bribe to shut up.

GEORGE PELL: I certainly offered nothing of the sort.

RICHARD CARLETON: Could I play you the tape, sir, of his accusations?

GEORGE PELL: Yeah, for sure.

DAVIDRISDALE: Then all of a sudden I just stopped and went, "George, I'mtotally lost. Can you please tell me what you were trying to say here?"And his response to that was, "I want to know what it will take to keepyou quiet."

RICHARD CARLETON: Are there any doubts in your mind that those were the specific words that he used?

DAVID RISDALE: I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet. None at all.

RICHARD CARLETON: And you then said what?

DAVID RISDALE: You'll probably have to beep it. I said, "Fuck you and fuck everything you stand for," and I hung up.

RICHARDCARLETON: Archbishop, those words there are terrible. Did you use thosewords, "I want to know what it would take to keep you quiet"?

GEORGEPELL: No, I didn't. I've got a recollection that I spoke to David anumber of times, that he phoned me a number of times on this, on thisincident. I think by that stage Risdale was in jail.


GEORGE PELL: He wasn't in jail in 1993?

RICHARDCARLETON: No. No, he was in jail later in '93. We can date this, yousee, because you have the police statement that David Risdale gave.


RICHARD CARLETON: Which is purportedly on the same day that he spoke to you on the phone.

GEORGE PELL: Yeah, yeah. Well, I can't ever remember him swearing at me.

RICHARDCARLETON: Leave aside the swearing, sir. The really important wordsare, you said, so it is alleged, "I want to know what it would take tokeep you quiet".

GEORGE PELL: No, I would certainly have neversaid that. I didn't say that. I could quite imagine saying to him whatsort of help might we be able to offer him in terms of ... I mean I'menormously sympathetic to his plight and in 1993, as an auxiliarybishop in Melbourne, I had no capacity to offer him anything anywhere.And I certainly ... I'm quite prepared to concede that I would havebeen rattled, that I was distressed. I have great sympathy toward himand his family and what happened to him was dreadful, but hisrecollection of some of the things he says is totally wrong.

RICHARD CARLETON: It would be very serious if you had said that.

GEORGE PELL: Yeah, it certainly would be.

RICHARD CARLETON: A resigning matter?

GEORGE PELL: I don't know about resigning, but certainly would be serious and a grave error.

RICHARDCARLETON: Okay. I would like to play you now, sir, a tape of DavidRisdale's two sisters, who have been interviewed for this program.

Davidtold me that after he had told George about the abuse, George asked himwhat it would take to keep him silent. In fact, David's words to mewere, "The bastard tried to offer me a bribe."

RICHARD CARLETON: Having heard the sisters, sir, do you have anything you'd like to add?

GEORGE PELL: They were misinformed. I mean, it's a very, it's a very distressing sort of situation.


GEORGEPELL: For both David and for myself at the time. I have a recollectionthat he spoke to me more than once and I think I phoned subsequently,at least once to his house and spoke to his wife to see how things weregoing. I spoke with him a number of times.


GEORGEPELL: And I deeply regret that he misunderstood things in these waysand before today I'd never heard a suggestion that he'd put thatinterpretation on it. He'd never said that to me.

RICHARD CARLETON: Do you know of the (bleeped out) family in Victoria, Melbourne? Two daughters?

GEORGE PELL: I met once with the parents.

RICHARDCARLETON: Their daughters were abused by Father Kevin O'Donnell from1987 to 1992, and the family is of the opinion if you had done your jobtheir daughters would not have been abused.

GEORGE PELL: Oh well, that's completely mistaken.

RICHARD CARLETON: Would you like to see what they've said, sir?

GEORGE PELL: Yes, yes.

"GARY":We showed Pell a photo of him presenting our daughter with aconfirmation certificate at her confirmation. His response was, "That'sa very nice photo." We then showed him a photo of our daughter justafter she had cut her wrists, with blood coming out of them, and hisonly comment, with absolutely no change in attitude, in facialexpression, was, "Oh, she's changed, hasn't she?"

RICHARD CARLETON: Not a very happy family, are they, Archbishop?

GEORGE PELL: No, no, they've suffered a lot.

RICHARD CARLETON: Here are those photos that he's talking about.

GEORGE PELL: I've ... I've ... Which is the...

RICHARD CARLETON: That's the one, I think, of you confirming the lass.


RICHARD CARLETON: And the other one is the later...

GEORGE PELL: I've never seen the photo...

RICHARD CARLETON: ... with the slashed wrists?

GEORGE PELL: ... with the slashed wrists.

RICHARD CARLETON: The mother and father say they gave it to you.

GEORGEPELL: I don't believe I've seen that. I have no recollection of that. Imean it's an awful ... I don't believe I ever saw that.

RICHARD CARLETON: And you offered them $50,000.

GEORGE PELL: I offered them nothing. They were free to go into a process which is run by an independent panel.

RICHARD CARLETON: I have a letter here.

GEORGE PELL: That's from the lawyers after they'd been through the process which they were free to enter.

RICHARD CARLETON: You're exactly right, sir. It is from the lawyers — Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

GEORGE PELL: That's right.

RICHARDCARLETON: "Dear Mr and Mrs" — I won't mention the family name — "as youknow, we act for Archbishop Pell." You offered them 50 grand to bequiet.

GEORGE PELL: I offered them 50 grand in compensation according to the publicly acknowledged procedures.

RICHARD CARLETON: And to be quiet.

GEORGE PELL: And they chose not to accept that.

RICHARDCARLETON: The words, if words have meaning, sir, you bought theirsilence or you sought to buy their silence — "a realistic alternativeto litigation that will otherwise be strenuously defended".

GEORGE PELL: Yes, if they want to go law, we will use the law to defend ourselves. And they are free to do so.

RICHARD CARLETON: And you swear them to secrecy.

GEORGE PELL: We ask them to...

RICHARD CARLETON: You swear them. You don't ask them, you swear them.

GEORGEPELL: There is a requirement that they don't talk about it. Most ofthem are happy not to. And if they don't want to use that, they can dosomething else.

RICHARD CARLETON: They can go to the courts.


RICHARD CARLETON: Why do you impose this condition, sir?

GEORGE PELL: Because many of them don't want to be subjected to publicity and of course it's shameful for the Church.

RICHARD CARLETON: Archbishop, thank you.

GEORGE PELL: Good, thank you.


Go back to the transcript of Part 1 the story. Click here.



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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia