Finally, an honest Catholic official!

While testifying in Rome as part of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell revealed that a case resulting in the conviction a priest for 138 offenses against more than 50 children “wasn’t much interest to me.”

“I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of evils that Ridsdale had perpetrated,” explained Pell, regarding the pedophile priest in question, a former roommate of his. NBC News reports:

The Australian cardinal — the highest-ranking Vatican official to testify on systemic sexual abuse of children by clergy — said senior clergy lied to him to cover up abuse in the 1970s.

He insisted there was no reason for him to know the extent of the abuse carried out by his one-time roommate — pedophile priest Father Gerald Ridsdale — who was later convicted of 138 offences against more than 50 children.

Pell denied there was any discussion of Ridsdale being a pedophile at a meeting he attended in 1982 where it was discussed that Ridsdale should be moved to another parish.

Pell testified on the case from Rome via videolink because he reportedly said he was unable to travel to Sydney, where the hearing is taking place, due to heart problems.

NBC also reports that:

Pell is not charged with any crimes, but his testimony has taken on wider implications about the accountability of church leaders given his high rank within the church. He is considered the third most powerful clergyman in the Vatican, after Pope Francis and the secretary of state.

Given the history of systematic coverups of child abuse within the Catholic Church, the fact that its No. 3 is rather blasé about this particular case should surprise no one and dismay everyone. (He drew gasps upon saying his “wasn’t much interest to me” comment.) He didn’t care! He just put into words a key factor in the perpetuation of and covering up of the sexual abuse of minors.

Pell himself is reportedly under investigation for child abuse. According to a Guardian report from last month:

News Corp Australia claims detectives from taskforce Sano have compiled a dossier containing allegations that Pell committed “multiple offenses” when he was a priest in Ballarat, a town in the state’s west, and also when he was working as the archbishop of Melbourne.

Police also refused to answer general questions about whether they were investigating claims related to historical child sexual abuse related to the diocese of Ballarat or the archdiocese of Melbourne.

However, according to the report, the investigation by Sano detectives has been taking place for the past year. A dossier compiled by the detectives says Pell allegedly sexually abused minors “by both grooming and opportunity.”

Pell has denied these allegations. NBC also reports:

A day earlier, Pell admitted the Catholic church had “mucked things up” in its response to sex abuse, adding: “I’m not here to defend the indefensible.”

[h/t Towleroad]