Victims are heartened a crowdfunding effort has already raised $30,000 to get them to Rome for Cardinal George Pell’s evidence about the Catholic Church’s handling of child sex abuse by clergy.
Whether representatives of Ballarat abuse survivors go depends on the Rome venue being open to the public when Cardinal Pell gives evidence via videolink to the child abuse royal commission.
The Ballarat and District Child Abuse Survivors group says the nation’s most senior Catholic should still be subjected to a courtroom-style setting even though he is not returning to Australia, meaning interested parties should be able to be there with him.
Spokesman David Ridsdale said the community support had given so much hope to so many survivors who just wanted to be heard.
‘It’s just given hope – not the fact that we might go to Rome, just that so many people care,’ he told AAP.
A crowdfunding effort on Go Fund Me had raised $30,000 by 6.30pm on Tuesday.
The fundraisers are seeking $55,000 to send 15 representatives of survivors, the city of Ballarat and support people to Rome.
Mr Ridsdale, a nephew and victim of Australia’s worst pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale, said he was not sure if the group would still go to Rome if they were not allowed to be in the same room as Cardinal Pell.
‘If it’s a closed hearing I don’t imagine they’ll be revealing the location – the idea of just going to Rome to visit the Vatican is probably not on the highest agenda of most survivors.’
But he said some survivors may want to go anyway now they had the community backing and funds but that was yet to be determined.
The royal commission has said it is making inquiries about venues in Rome.
Cardinal Pell’s evidence will cover the church’s handling of abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese and Ballarat diocese over three days from February 29.
The commission agreed to the videolink after medical advice that the former Melbourne archbishop and Ballarat priest should not undertake long-haul flights due to a worsened heart condition.