Vatican economic chief “too ill” to fly to abuse inquiry

Ill health has forced Cardinal George Pell to be excused from appearing in person at Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse until February. Justice Peter McClellan, chairing the commission’s inquiry, said he had received an email “to advise that the cardinal is currently affected by serious health conditions that, in the opinion of his treating specialists, make his travel to Australia unsafe”.

The cardinal’s lawyer, Allan Myers, QC, asked the commission to allow the cardinal, who had previously booked flights and had been due to arrive in Australia on Sunday, December 13 to testify via video link from Rome, where he is managing Vatican’s financial reforms.

Heart condition

Cardinal Pell’s office subsequently released a statement saying he had suffered from a heart condition “for some time”, and that its symptoms had “recently worsened”, such that a specialist cardiologist in Rome had advised that it was “not safe for him to undertake long haul flights in his current condition”. 

But Justice McClellan said the 74-year-old Pell would be called again in February.