Abuse Survivors Land In Rome To Face Pell After Massive Crowdfunding Drive

Fifteen survivors of sexual abuse suffered in Victoria’s Catholic school and church system have arrived in Rome, one day before Cardinal George Pell is set to give video evidence to the Ballarat-based royal commission.

It’s arguably inconscionable Pell – who was the roommate to one of Australia’s most terrible paedophiles during a spate of his abuses – was granted a dubious medical exemption from fronting the commission, but the fact a group of survivors will still be able to face the Cardinal while he delivers evidence is a small victory in itself. And it’s thanks to a massively successful crowdfunding campaign.

The GoFundMe drive, which was famously boosted by snarky troubadour Tim Minchin and his charity single, has raised over $200k to date; much of that funding has gone directly to travel expenses for the group of fifteen, who have now reclaimed the opportunity to face Pell as he presumably explains his ignorance about the whole deal. 

Also worth noting: victim Paul Levey, whose severe leg injury probably would qualify for a medical exemption, made the journey to Italy too. Levey, along with support staff and representatives from the City of Ballarat, will be present as the Cardinal gives evidence. 

Of his own experience speaking to the royal commission, Levey told The Guardian “we spoke in front of the world, really, so we believe he should feel a little bit of that pressure.”

“It is important for us to sit in a room and see him testify. We all testified in a public arena and we didn’t think it was fair that he would be sitting in the Vatican and testify by video link, practically in his lounge room.”
With abuse survivors on-site, one of the Vatican’s top men will probably be facing a bit more pressure than he expected. The hearings will last three to four days, starting on Sunday, local time. 

“We want the hierarchy that were in charge to be held accountable for aiding and abetting a pedophile, really,” Levey said. 

Source: 9 News / AAP / The Guardian. 
Photo: Franco Origlia / Getty.