George Pell gives evidence at the Royal Commission.
George Pell gives evidence at the Royal Commission.

Cardinal Pell "almost sociopathic", says Vatican advisor

CARDINAL George Pell must step down from his position at the Vatican, according to a top advisor to the pope.

Peter Saunders was specifically chosen by Pope Francis in late 2014 to act as the Church's commissioner for the protection of children.

He described Cardinal Pell as being "almost sociopathic" in the way he treated victims.

Mr Saunders said the Cardinal's history of denial in the face of his apparent knowledge of child abuse was "cold" and "callous".

He told 60 Minutes on Sunday night it was time for Cardinal Pell to step down and face the Royal Commission into child abuse in Australia.

"I personally think that his position is untenable," Mr Saunders said.

"Because he has now a catalogue of denials - he has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care."

Cardinal George Pell with Pope Francis
Cardinal George Pell with Pope Francis

The ABC reports a spokesperson for Cardinal Pell has hit back at Mr Saunders' comments.

"The false and misleading claims made against His Eminence are outrageous," according to a statement reported by the ABC.

"From his earliest actions as an archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated.

"Cardinal Pell has never met Mr Saunders, who seems to have formed his strong opinions without ever having spoken to His Eminence.

"In light of all of the available material, including evidence from the Cardinal under oath, there is no excuse for broadcasting incorrect and prejudicial material."


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