One of the Catholic church’s highest ranking cardinals, Vatican official George Pell, faced four hours of questioning about his role in the clergy sexual abuse crisis in his native Australia in an extraordinary overnight hearing Sunday, in which he admitted the church “has made enormous mistakes” in its handling of dangerous priests.
And, in response to a specific question, Pell stated, “I am not here to defend the indefensible.”
The Cardinal testified via video-link, answering questions from “Gail Furness, the lead counsel assisting Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, [who] led Pell through years of the church’s response to sexual abuse, fact by fact.”
About 150 people attended Sunday night’s hearing in Rome, where Pell sat alone at a small table in the corner of a large hotel ballroom, testifying to a camera set up with a television screen. Security was extraordinarily tight, with Italian, Australian and Vatican officers scanning the crowd, and frisking everyone who entered the room.
Pell is expected testify via video link from Rome for the Royal Commission sitting in Sydney for at least three more nights.