George Pell was in Ballarat in March
Cardinal George Pell visited his old school in the Ballarat area, which came as a surprise to the CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council. (I took the photo of the ribbons attached to St Pats gates yesterday)
Cardinal George Pell visited Ballarat and a school at the centre of clergy abuse claims just weeks before the royal commission hearings began in the town.
The Cardinal is pictured walking the halls of St Patrick's College with the school's headmaster John Crowley in the April edition of the school's magazine The Shamrock.
The development comes as public pressure builds on Australia's most senior Catholic cleric to front the commission to answer explosive claims that he bribed a victim to remain silent about a notorious paedophile priest.
Cardinal Pell and St Patrick's College headmaster John Crowley in the April edition of the school magazine The Shamrock.
The March 28 visit to the school coincided with a "short vacation to Australia" for Cardinal Pell, a former St Patrick's student, and involved talks of "an exciting new initiative" to promote excellence at the school, The Shamrock reported.
"Cardinal Pell has long been a strong and passionate advocate of St Patrick's College and remains close friends with many of his former classmates from his time as a student here," Mr Crowley told The Shamrock.
"It was a great thrill to be able to escort his Eminence around the College grounds and witness the way he interacted with staff and students alike."
As Cardinal Pell toured new facilities and met students, the Ballarat hearings into sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy members, who were able to continue offending for years allegedly under the protection of senior church figures, was less than two months away.
It had been seven years since the cardinal last visited St Patrick's and although he has not yet been called to appear in the Ballarat hearing, victims of clergy abuse have argued he has an ethical obligation to appear.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was among those who called for Cardinal Pell to return to Australia to respond to the bribery allegations made against him last week in person.
From today's ABC online.