Secret sections of a landmark report into child sex abuse may soon be made public, revealing details about the conduct of Cardinal George Pell.
During the Royal Commission set up to investigate historic child sex abuse, parts of the report containing information about Cardinal Pell’s handling of allegations were unpublished.
This is due to fears it could prejudice his trial, but proceedings are no longer active after his conviction was quashed on Tuesday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has now personally asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to release the secret sections of the report.
Cardinal George Pell (pictured) is seen on Tuesday after being released from Barwon Prison after the High Court overturned his conviction
It is said to discuss Cardinal Pell’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests early in his career.
Prosecutors have confirmed there are no current of future court cases that could be prejudiced by the report being published in full.
But Attorney-General Christian Porter said it could still be weeks before it is made public.
A former adviser to the Pope, and Australia’s most prominent figure in the Catholic Church, Pell was released from prison on Tuesday after 405 days.
Commissioners Justice Peter McClellan (pictured, left) and Justice Jennifer Coates (right) at the final sitting of the commission on December 14 2017
Cardinal George Pell was spotted buying a phone charger at a service station in Victoria on his first day of freedom on Wednesday (pictured)
He was jailed for six years in 2018 for sexually abusing two choirboys in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996, but his convictions have been quashed.
Two of three Court of Appeals justices at the upheld the jury’s verdict last year, but a full bench of the High Court unanimously quashed the convictions.
After his successful appeal, acquitting Cardinal Pell of all charges, the Victorian government said there was no reason to not release the report, full and un-redacted.
The hidden section concerns the period in the early 1980s when Cardinal Pell was working as a ‘consultor’ to Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was set up in 2013, found Mulkearns moved priest Gerald Ridsdale – who was a serial paedophile – between parishes, despite knowing about the abuse.
A child’s tricycle is seen on the gate of the Carmelite Monastery (pictured) where Cardinal George Pell is staying in Kew, Melbourne on Wednesday
Pell leaves the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne on June 6 2019 after his initial conviction (pictured)
The report said Mulkearns either ‘knew or strong suspected’ that priests were sexually abusing children.
‘There is no doubt from the many documents which are in evidence that, at various times, Bishop Mulkearns, the bishop of Ballarat, knew or strongly suspected that these priests had sexually abused children in the diocese,’ the report said.
It concluded that children were abused over decades by serial paedophile priests, largely because Mulkearns allowed it to happen and cared only about protecting the church’s reputation.
The report also found that Mulkearns had little concern for the victims and deliberately left them in danger – failing to report any incidents to police.
George Pell is seen on Tuesday (pictured) after being released from prison, having spent 405 days behind bars
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has called for the report to be released in full
‘His concern was overwhelmingly about protecting the reputation of the church and avoiding scandal,’ the report read.
‘There was little evidence that he was concerned to protect children from these priests.’
Mulkearns managed the diocese from 1971, during a time when several paedophiles – including Gerald Ridsdale, Robert Best and Edward Dowlan – were abusing children.
One of Ridsdale’s victims – his own nephew David – alleged that he told Pell about the abuse he endured, but was encouraged to keep quiet.
Cardinal Pell has denied this allegation.
The freed cardinal spent his first night out of prison at the Carmelite Monastery in Melbourne, with protesters leaving a lone child’s tricycle outside.
Haunting pictures show the small red bike tied to the monastery’s front gates, surrounded by colourful ribbons.
While not mentioning Cardinal Pell by name, Pope Francis offered his Tuesday morning mass for those who suffer from unjust sentences.
‘I would like to pray today for all those people who suffer unjust sentences resulting from intransigence (against them),’ the Pope said.
WHY A JUDGE’S SHAVING ROUTINE MAY HAVE HELPED FREE GEORGE PELL
Justice Keane sits on the High Court of Australia, one of seven justices that acquitted Cardinal Pell.
During the appeal, a point was raised as to whether Pell had been chatting with churchgoers outside St Patrick’s Cathedral after a service.
It is after services when his accusers alleged the abuse took place. But if he was chatting to churchgoers, as witnesses said he always did, it couldn’t have happened.
Justice Keane said that even if there was no evidence Cardinal Pell had done so on those specific days, his evidence of routine and practice in doing so was ‘powerful evidence’.
He explained that he had come to this conclusion because of his own shaving routine.
‘I mean, I can say I shaved last Friday, not because I actually have a specific recollection of it, but because it was a workday and I shave on workdays.’