February 22, 2016 / 8:09 AM / 2 years ago

Australian abuse inquiry says will sit in Rome to hear Vatican treasurer

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian government inquiry into child abuse has said it has found a suitable public venue in Rome where victims will be able to watch the Vatican’s Australian-born treasurer testify about his knowledge of molestation within the church.

Cardinal George Pell gestures as he talks during a news conference for the presentation of new president of Vatican Bank IOR, at the Vatican July 9, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne, is the star witness in the long-running inquiry but angered victims last year when he delayed traveling from the Vatican to Australia to testify because of heart problems.

The inquiry said in a statement on Tuesday that Pell would testify at the Hotel Quirinale in Rome for an expected four hours per day over three to four days.

This month, the inquiry allowed Pell to stay in Rome and testify via videolink, prompting an Australian radio station to help 10 victims and five supporters raise A$204,000 to travel to Rome to watch the cardinal testify in person.

Pell, 74, is expected to be asked about his knowledge of measures taken by the Roman Catholic Church to handle child abuse complaints in the country town of Ballarat, where he was born and served as a priest from 1973 to 1983.

The cardinal has meanwhile called for an investigation into a suspected leak by Victoria state police after the Herald Sun newspaper reported that police were investigating abuse complaints concerning Pell himself. Pell emphatically denied those allegations.

Reporting by Byron Kaye and Jarni Blakkarly; Editing by Nick Macfie and Paul Tait

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