Cardinal George Pell has called the media’s reports of him making up an illness to get out of appearing before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as “misleading and mischievous”.
The Catholic Cardinal was to appear before the Royal Commission on Wednesday last week, but his lawyer told the hearing a few days earlier that Cardinal Pell was too ill to fly and could not give evidence in person.
Since the news of the Cardinal being too unwell to face the inquiry, mainstream and social media has been awash with criticism of his absence, with many questioning the legitimacy of his illness.
On Sunday Cardinal Pell released a statement claiming the commission had reviewed and approved his unavailability for the hearing on medical grounds. He also hit out at the media saying that reports about his ‘alleged’ illness were both misleading and mischievous.
“The Royal Commission reviewed this medical evidence and accepted it as grounds for deferring Cardinal Pell’s attendance until February,” read Cardinal Pell’s statement. “The commission also required this personal information to be treated as confidential.”
Although too ill to make the long-haul flight from Rome to Australia, Cardinal Pell is still working and said he could give evidence by video link. He also denied that he was refusing to face the many victims of sexual abuse.
“Claims that Cardinal Pell is refusing to attend the Royal Commission, or to face victims of sexual abuse are false and ridiculous,” said the statement. “Cardinal Pell’s whole career is a story of stepping up to meet challenges, not avoiding them.
“Above all, he wants to do everything that he can to assist survivors in finding justice and healing, and understands the importance of his evidence for them.”
What do you think of Cardinal Pell’s non-attendance? Do you feel that his illness is legitimate? Or do you have a feeling that this is all too convenient? And with this being Cardinal Pell’s chance to dispel his bad press, do you think he should make more of an effort to attend?