Monday, 24 March 2014

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Cardinal George Pell exposed as being selective with the truth

The Sydney Morning Herald  11 March 2014:

Mr Ellis came away from a pivotal meeting with then Archbishop Pell in 2009 with the impression that the litigation had been “a runaway train with nobody at the wheel”. This was after years of legal action that had crippled Mr Ellis mentally and financially…
“No, it left me with the impression that Cardinal Pell was completely out of the loop on all of that decision making,” Mr Ellis said…

The Saturday Paper 15 March 2014:

But on Monday morning, just minutes before Ellis entered the witness box, counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness, SC, in her introductory remarks, dropped something of a bombshell.

She referred to a witness statement by Cardinal George Pell, not yet public because he was not due to appear until later in the week, in which he expressed “some concern” about the way the litigation between the church and Ellis had been handled. She quoted Pell:

“Whatever position was taken by the lawyers during the litigation, or by lawyers or individuals within the archdiocese following the litigation, my own view is that the church in Australia should be able to be sued in cases of this kind.”...

The Sydney Morning Herald 17 March 2014:
Monsignor Rayner who as Archdiocesan chancellor was the official church authority to deal with victim’s complaints, said he told Cardinal Pell about the amounts of money victims of sex abuse sought. But for an agreement to be reached, “finally the decision would have been made by the Archbishop himself”.

 Cardinal George Pell was calling all the shots in the notorious case in which the Catholic Church fought off the damages claim of abuse victim John Ellis, his solicitor has confirmed to the child sex abuse Royal Commission. The 2007 Ellis case established the defence which has insulated the church from paying damages to victims in similar cases ever since... 

 Cardinal Pell himself described the litigation against Mr Ellis as “legal abuse”, the Commission has been told. The case caused Mr Ellis harm and suffering, according to senior counsel for the Commission Gail Furness.

 For more than a week, before the Cardinal himself takes the stand, the Commission has been grappling with the question of how much Cardinal Pell knew. Now Paul McCann, the senior partner with Corrs Chambers Westgarth, which conducted the litigation for the church from 2004, has told the Commission he had no doubt the instructions he received through Cardinal Pell’s private secretary Dr Michael Casey came from the Cardinal himself. Cardinal Pell is due to appear early next week.

“What was your understanding of those instructions and whether or not they were informed by Cardinal Pell?’, asked commission chair, Justice Peter McClellan.
Mr McCann replied: “I didn’t have any doubt that the Cardinal was being kept up to date on developments in the case and it is obvious from some of the exchanges that he was in fact seemingly giving instructions as to various steps.’’

According to the solicitor, he was instructed by Dr Casey, who he believed was doing Cardinal Pell’s bidding in relation to several key decisions in the case. These included refusing Mr Ellis’ offer to mediate before the litigation, refusing a compromise offer to pay $750,000 plus costs before the case started and the decision not to put a counter offer to Mr Ellis….

ABC News 18 March 2014:

In a statement presented to the inquiry earlier this month, Cardinal Pell said he was not aware of ex-gratia offers made to Mr Ellis.

But Monsignor Brian Rayner, who represented the Sydney Archdiocese and Archbishop Pell in Towards Healing matters in 2004, has contradicted that statement.

Under cross-examination, Monsignor Rayner maintained the Archbishop was informed.

"I spoke to the Archbishop on every amount of money that was being offered to any particular victim," he said.

Despite saying he did not have authority, Monsignor Rayner offered Mr Ellis a $5,000 increase on the $25,000 payment before gaining the approval of Catholic Church Insurance.
In a lively exchange with the Church's counsel Peter Gray SC, Monsignor Rayner maintained that he had informed Archbishop Pell of the ex-gratia offers made to Mr Ellis.

"My evidence is correct and I've seen the contrary thoughts of the Archbishop and the Archbishop also has occasions when his recollection of events is not clearly accurate," he said.

He also said the Archbishop was very involved in Mr Ellis' case… 

The Catholic Church's insurer insisted on being "kept in the loop" in the John Ellis case after lawyers expressed concern at Cardinal George Pell's "tooth and nail" approach, according to evidence at the child sex abuse royal commission.

Peter Rush, then general manager of Catholic Church Insurance Ltd, complained to the business manager of the Sydney Archdiocese about being "kept out of the loop" in the case and warned this could jeopardise the church's insurance, the commission heard…

Dr Casey testified that it was his job to convey instructions to the church's lawyers, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, but the instructions came from Cardinal Pell.

"The general instructions were to vigorously defend the claim and to defeat the litigation, is that right?" asked Gail Furness SC for the commission.

"Yes", Dr Casey replied…

At a 2009 meeting Cardinal Pell told him the church's move from mediation to vigorous pursuit of his case was "unfathomable", Mr Ellis said...

1 comment:

John Fraser said...


If the current Pope thinks the mafia are on their way to hell .......... then there is no doubt they will be met there by Pell.