A new book makes some explosive allegations about Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic official.
Cardinal: The Rise And Fall of George Pell, written by well-regarded ABC journalise Louise Milligan, claims that Pell sexually abused two choirboys in the late 1990s.
Fairfax News reports that the book contains detailed claims that the abuse occurred at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, it alleges, after Pell established the church’s compensation scheme for sexual abuse victims in 1996. The boys were in the choice and abused in a back room at the church, Fairfax said, citing the book.
The book also alleges that Pell, who has been criticised last year for his refusal to return to Australia to give further evidence to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse within the Catholic church, knew about the activities of paedophile priests earlier than he claims to have known. At the time, Pell cited illness for his inability to travel from Rome in Italy to Australia for the hearings.
Pell has always denied any allegations of abuse, which started emerging as early as 2002.
The book does report that police from Victoria flew to Rome to interview Pell, who is now the church’s Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy – effectively the Pope’s accountant – and that a file of evidence had been handed to the public prosecutor’s office last year. This has been confirmed by Victorian Police separately, although the force has not disclosed the public prosecutors’ recommendations.
George Pell subject of Victoria Police investigation into multiple allegations of sexual abuse Louise Milligan and Andy Burns
Milligan, who’s now an investigative reporter for 4 Corners, received a Melbourne Press Club Golden Quill award along with colleague Andy Burns last year for work they did for the ABC’s 7.30 on the Catholic Church’s sex scandal.
Milligan’s publisher tweeted a promotion for the book, with the blurb saying that the reporter “pieces together a series of disturbing pictures of the Cardinal’s knowledge and his actions”. Milligan herself has not tweeted about the Fairfax story, and it does not contain a current comment from her.