Cardinal George Pell knew a paedophile teacher was moved to a new school because he was allegedly abusing children but did not tell church authorities or the police because he presumed the teacher would receive “help” to stop him reoffending.
Brother Ted Dowlan, a member of the Christian Brothers order, was removed from St Patrick’s College in 1974 after he admitted abusing boys under his care. He went on to abuse children at at least another four schools over another 14 years. Dowlan has since been jailed twice for abusing children, in 1996 and again last year.
At the time of Dowlan’s offending in the 1970s, Pell was the episcopal vicar for education in the diocese of Ballarat – the bishop’s representative in all areas of education.
Pell told the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse on Wednesday he knew in 1974 that Dowlan was alleged to have sexually abused children but he did not seek information on the exact nature of Dowlan’s offending, nor did he tell the bishop of the diocese, or the police, of the offending.
“I would say that in light of my present understandings, I would concede I should have done more,” Pell told the commission.
Cardinal George Pell has told the child abuse royal commission it was a "disastrous coincidence" that five paedophile priests preyed on children in Ballarat during the 1970s, as survivors accused him of lying.
The Vatican's finance chief was questioned extensively on what he knew about the actions of several paedophile priests, including "about four or five" who operated in the Ballarat diocese, including Gerald Ridsdale and Edward Dowlan.
When asked why there had been "so many child sexual abusers aggregating in Ballarat East in the 1970s", Cardinal Pell said it was a "disastrous coincidence".
"I wouldn't for a minute think that [the Christian Brothers] put all these people together for a specific purpose," he said.
Speaking outside the hotel, survivors said they doubted Cardinal Pell was telling the truth.
"The royal commission at some stage in the future will give a recommendation on the evidence given by George.
"We feel George has not been honest nor truthful. George will have to live with this chosen course."
The survivors stopped short of calling for Cardinal Pell to resign.
"It never has been all about Pell," another survivor, Peter Blenkiron, said.
"We've watched the evidence that's been presented ... in all the other case studies by the other clergy. There's a pattern right across the board that denial is always around [the offences]."
The Ballarat survivors have been in talks to arrange a meeting with Pope Francis, which may happen as soon as Friday.
Speaking outside the hotel after giving evidence, Cardinal Pell said he hoped the past four days had "contributed a bit to healing, to improving the situation" and that he would meet with some of the survivors tomorrow.