Cardinal George Pell has again denied asking a nephew and victim of pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale what it would take to keep him quiet.
David Ridsdale has told the child abuse royal commission when he told Cardinal Pell in 1993 he had been abused by his uncle, the then Melbourne bishop asked him: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”
Cardinal Pell has repeatedly denied the claim, which he did again before the commission on Thursday.
The hearing via video link from Rome began an hour earlier at 9pm Rome time, 7am Sydney time.
Cardinal Pell is facing questioning from sex abuse victims’ lawyers on his fourth day on the stand in Rome on Thursday.
Cardinal Pell told the commission on Wednesday the church in the 1970s and 1980s was a world of crimes and cover ups and he was left in the dark about serious sex abuse allegations against priests and brothers in Ballarat and Melbourne.
Cardinal Pell also said he regretted his choice of words when he told the commission on Tuesday he had no interest in Father Ridsdale’s offending in the mid-1970s.
Cardinal Pell said he completely messed up the sequence of events while giving evidence and had believed he was responding to questions about when he was a Melbourne official in 1993.
‘I regret the choice of words. I was very confused. I responded poorly,’ he said on Thursday.
‘I have never enjoyed reading the accounts of these sufferings and I tried to do that only when it was professionally and absolutely appropriate because the behaviour is abhorrent and painful to read about.’
Cardinal Pell – who was then a Ballarat priest – had said he didn’t know Ridsdale’s offending was common knowledge in the Inglewood parish in 1975 and did not know about the allegations.
‘It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me,” he said on Tuesday to gasps of surprise from some of those watching the commission hearing.
‘The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that, but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evils that Ridsdale had perpetrated.’