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27 Times George Pell Couldn't Remember Things At The Royal Commission

"I don't recall..."

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Cardinal George Pell gave testimony for four hours at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Monday morning.

Today's testimony covered Pell's time at several dioceses in rural Victoria, and whether he was ever aware of the behaviour of several paedophile priests in the area. Here are all the times he couldn't recall things.


1. “I'd have to be careful. My mind is not entirely clear but I don't think so. I think that was set up independently.” - On whether his advice was sought before the establishment of a special tribunal within the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops accused of protecting priests who sexually abused children.

2. “Well, it's a long time ago but I can't remember such can complaints and normally they would have been addressed to the education office not to the vicar.” On whether he was ever approached about adults being “overly affectionate” with children.

3. “Well, I can't remember any such examples but my memory might be playing me false.” On a similar question.

4. Counsel: Why might your memory be playing you false?

Pell: Because I don't have perfect recall.


5. “I can't remember what there was or to what extent there was.” On whether there was “any emphasis on protective behaviours for children” at the Institute of Catholic Education while Pell was episcopal vicar for education in Ballarat.

6. “I don't have any clear such recollection. I certainly never heard that he was being helped because he was a paedophile.” - On whether paedophile priest Paul David Ryan was sent to the United States for treatment for his sexual offences.

7. “I don't have any clear such recollection.” - On whether he was advised or had any information about Paul David Ryan being sent the the US in 1977 because of his sexual behaviour.

8. “I have no clear recollection of my knowing that he was sent off for such treatment. At that time.” - Still on Paul David Ryan.

9. “I can't... I can't clearly recall him being sent off for that purpose at all.” - Same subject. He later conceded Ryan “very well might have been.”

10. “I don't want to rule it out, because my level of recall is not sufficient to rule it out.” - same topic.

11. “Um ... I can't... I couldn't give book, chapter and verse about what Mulkearns knew and did not act upon at a particular time. I'm aware of the list of offenders.” - Of whether Bishop Ronald Mulkearns of Ballarat was aware of widespread abuse in his diocese.


12. “Um ... I'm having a senior moment. Clayton. At that stage.” - On the location of the Corpus Christi seminary, of which he was a leader.

13. “I don't know whether he was in that part of the diocese in that time. He might've been. I don't remember that.” - On whether he knew a Father Jerry Baldock when Pell was assistant priest at Swan Hill in between 1971 and 1973.

14. “I didn't have any such recollection but I don't doubt it.” - On whether Father Dan Torpy was an assistant priest at Mildura at around the same time.

15. “I'm battling to remember whether I ever encountered him. If I did so,it was very rarely.” - On when he first met monsignor John Day.

16. “This is over 40 years ago. I have had almost no close connection with Day. I can't remember exactly what I heard when.” - On whether he heard gossip about Monsignor Day’s behaviour.

17. “I can't remember whether it was Mildura or Melbourne, but I remember seeing some such article. And I can't recall whether I heard about this controversy, these incidents before or after that article.” - On whether he was aware of gossip, either before or after an a newspaper article was published, regarding the actions of Day.

18. “I can't remember him doing so.” - On whether Father Baldock warned him about the gossip he had heard about Monsignor Day.


19. “I don't recall that.” - On whether he had been told that Monsignor Day took young boys out on trips with him.

20. “No such recollection. No such recollection.” - On whether a group of concerned parents held a meeting about the actions of Monsignor Day.

22. “I've got no such recollection.” - On whether he was aware of a police investigation into Monsignor Day in 1972.

22. “I've got no recollection of him giving me information about that and I might've said that he did, but I would be interested to see the record.” - On whether a Father Taffe was the source of information about Monsignor’s Day’s abuse.

23. “I've got no such recollection.” - On whether Father Torpy warned Pell about Monsignor Day.

24. “It's over 40 years ago and I can't recall.” - On when and how he became aware of the resignation of Monsignor Day.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images

25. “I can't remember other particular conversations about the Mildura activity or about the appointment.” - On whether he was informed that Monsignor Day had been given a job in another parish.

26. “Once again, it's a difficult to recall accurately…” On when and how he was first informed of the offences of a man known as Brother BWX.

27. “I don't recall anything at all. I can't remember Brother Farrell at all.” - On whether he was aware of allegations against Stephen Farrell

Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

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