Australia

Sex abuse victims to face Cardinal George Pell in Rome

Australia's most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cardinal Pell was appointed to oversee the Vatican's finances in the wake of scandals at the Vatican Bank

Catholic Cardinal George Pell will face an audience of child abuse survivors when he testifies to an Australian inquiry from a Rome hotel.

Cardinal Pell was excused from returning to Australia to testify at the royal commission into child sex abuse due to ill health.

Abuse survivors and their supporters have raised enough money to attend Cardinal Pell's testimony in Rome.

A room at the Hotel Quirinale will be the venue for next week's hearing.

The cardinal's testimony begins on Monday morning Australian time and is expected to run for three to four days.

It will be streamed live to the Royal Commission's hearing rooms in Sydney and Ballarat Town Hall, and will also be viewable online.

The group that will comprise Cardinal Pell's audience, which raised more than A$200,000 ($143,000; £100,000) through crowdfunding, is expected to fly to Rome this weekend.

Survivor Andrew Collins told Fairfax on Monday it would be an "arduous journey" to Rome, but said Cardinal Pell "should have to see people and look into their eyes".

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has focused much of its efforts on widespread child abuse by Catholic church clergy in Australia.

It is currently hearing testimony regarding child abuse that occurred in the city of Ballarat, including by notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Cardinal Pell was a priest in Ballarat and lived together with Ridsdale in the early 1970s.

He is not facing criminal charges, but detractors say child abuse that happened under his watch has made his Vatican position untenable.

Cardinal Pell has testified at the inquiry twice before in relation to other matters, once in person and once via video link.

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