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"Reasonable" for victims to see Pell testify from Rome

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Clergy abuse victims may be allowed in a Rome hotel room when Cardinal George Pell gives evidence to a royal commission.

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Child abuse royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan says the survivors’ request is reasonable, although he has not yet given them the final go-ahead.

Australia’s most senior Catholic will give videolink evidence from Rome to the commission sitting in Sydney next week and a group of clergy abuse survivors want to be in the room to witness his testimony.

“The commission considers that to be a reasonable request,” McClellan said on Monday.

He noted, however, that the commission was sitting in Sydney and not Rome.

The Australian embassy has helped locate a room in a Roman hotel which has the technical facilities to ensure an effective signal to Australia.

The facilities will be tested overnight with McClellan to make a further announcement about the venue on Tuesday.

“If it happens, and I am advised this is unlikely, that the hotel which has presently been identified is not adequate, an alternative venue will be found in Rome and appropriate arrangements will be made,” he said.

A crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $200,000 to send a group of clergy abuse survivors and support personnel to Rome.

They had been seeking $55,000 to fund the trip for 15 people.

Pell, now the Vatican’s finance chief, has offered to meet with victims and to “express his ongoing support” after giving evidence.

The commission agreed Pell could give evidence via videolink after medical advice that he should not undertake a long-haul flight due to his heart condition.

The cardinal’s office has said he is anxious to present the facts without further delays.

Three to four days have been set aside from next Monday for Pell’s third royal commission appearance, which will cover the church’s handling of abuse complaints in the Ballarat diocese and Melbourne archdiocese.

AAP

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