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Activities of jailed priest reportedly resurface in Pell inquiry

According to speculation in The Age this morning, the activities of jailed sex abuser Fr Gerald Ridsdale may be on the agenda for the "secret" commission into allegations that Sydney's Archbishop George Pell sexually abused an altar boy 41 years ago.

The commission, under former Supreme Court judge Alec Southwell, yesterday held a second day of hearings into the allegations at the Rydges Melbourne Hotel in Exhibition Street.

Some commission members and witnesses were ferried into the hotel through the underground car park and taken to the first-floor boardroom, which has been set up as a courtroom. Dr Pell is expected to give evidence today.

The commission was expected to sit for three days but is now expected to be a day longer because of the number of potential witnesses, which The Age understands to include Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, who was a student priest with Dr Pell in the 1960s.

The commission is inquiring into allegations by a Melbourne man that he was, as an altar boy aged 11, sexually assaulted by Dr Pell at a camp for altar boys at Smiths Beach, Phillip Island, in 1961.

The Ridsdale connection is understood to be made by a Ballarat man in a statement about sexual abuse by Ridsdale at Ballarat's St Alipius parish presbytery in the 1970s.

The Age


Pope John Paul has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Edgardo Gabriel Storni, an Argentine prelate who quit last week amid accusations that he abused seminary students, the Vatican said yesterday.

The Vatican said the Pope had accepted Storni's resignation according to a Church law which urges a prelate to resign if a "serious reason" makes him unable to fulfil his office.

Storni, archbishop of one of Argentina's biggest cities, Santa Fe, had been under mounting pressure from judicial probes.

The Argentine probe was prompted after the release in August of Olga Wornat's book Nuestra Santa Madre which alleged that teenage seminary students in Santa Fe, about 290 miles (475 km) north of Buenos Aires, were sexually abused.



Revelations of child abuse by Catholic priests is not affecting public confidence in the Catholic church, according to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.

The Cardinal is himself under police investigation following allegations that he ignored cases of child abuse by a priest in his diocese when he was Bishop of Brighton and Arundel in the 1980s.

"Faith in priests is not being eroded as a result of these things. The organisation is taking great steps to make sure that within the organisation the protection of children is ensured," he said.

The Cardinal, leader of four million Catholics in Britain, served as Bishop of Brighton and Arundel in Sussex in the 1980s and is alleged to have turned a blind eye to a paedophile priest, Fr Michael Hill, who was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys over 20 years.

London Evening Standard


A Boston bishop has cracked down on a lay group it perceives to be fuelling the sex abuse scandal in the Church in the US.

"The activities and promotion of the Voice of the Faithful must be curtailed in order to avoid further scandal and polarity among our parishioners," the auxiliary bishop who oversees North suburban parishes, Emilio S. Allue, wrote in a letter to the Fr Paul T. Keyes, parish priest of Saint Michael Church in North Andover.

"For the sake of unity and Catholic orthodoxy in the parish, it is inappropriate to foster these meetings and to allow the members of the Voice of the Faithful to meet with the parish councils."

Voice of the Faithful leaders said they are meeting with canon and civil lawyers and will vigorously contest the ban, which they say is illegal under church and US law. Voice of the Faithful is a lay group that began in Wellesley in February with the aim of supporting sex abuse victims and priests of integrity, as well as pushing for structural change in the church.

Boston Globe
Southwell inquiry starts in Victoria (Catholic Weekly)
Critics complain about 'closed door' Pell inquiry (1/10/02)
Inquiry into archbishop abuse claims (BBC)
Pell sex abuse hearing to take place today (30/9/02)
Day of truth dawns for Pell and accuser (The Age)
Pell knew 'abused' boys (27/9/02)
I knew the altar boys, says Pell (The Age)
Family unaware of Pell abuse claim (24/9/02)
Pell accuser stands by his claim (10/9/02)
Pell defence swaps QCs (The Age)
Legal lifeline for Pell accuser (AAP)
Pell's accuser weighs up his options (9/9/02)
Terms of Reference Releases for Pell Enquiry (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Terms of Reference - The Pell Enquiry (comment from lawyer Geoff Cahill)
Dr Pell steps aside while allegations are investigated (Catholic Weekly 1/9/02)

2 Oct 2002