Clergy sex abuse victims in Victorian diocese can now sue

A VICTORIAN bishop is making it possible for victims of past clergy child sex abuse to sue for damages.

Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird will put himself forward as a civil defendant so victims of his diocese can take legal action for past attacks.

The move stems from the nation's Catholic dioceses and religious orders signing an agreement to provide "entities" for victims to sue.

Bishop Bird's decision to stand in place of dead bishop James O'Collins means victims of notorious pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale can now sue for abuse at Ridsdale's hands.

Ridsdale, 81, was jailed for more than 150 sexual abuse and indecent assaults against more than 50 children in the 1960s-1980s.

Many of the attacks happened while Ridsdale was chaplain at St Alipius Boys School in Ballarat.

A group of Ballarat diocese abuse survivors will travel to Rome to watch Cardinal George Pell give evidence via video link to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

A crowd funding campaign raised more than $110,000 to pay for the victims to face the man who supported Ridsdale during his first court appearance for child sex offences in 1993.

Cardinal Pell has denied knowing of any child abuse involving Ballarat diocese.