ROME — For the past five days, a group of Australian survivors of clerical sexual abuse has been in Rome, watching a senior Vatican official testify before a national Royal Commission. While here, they told anyone who would listen that they wanted to meet Pope Francis, even prompting the cardinal giving testimony to promise to try to help arrange it.

Despite that seemingly clear desire, a Vatican spokesman said on Friday that no meeting occurred because there was no “official request.”

“Neither the secretary of state nor the pope’s personal secretary received a request for the meeting,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “No request arrived in the formal and proper way, which is the reason why an encounter is not expected.”

“It’s not that it arrived and was denied, but that it didn’t arrive,” Lombardi said.

The group of survivors arrived in Rome Sunday to be in the same hotel conference room while Australian Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s top financial official, gave testimony via video link to Australia’s Royal Commission investigating how Church leaders in Australia handled reports of sexual abuse and pedophile priests.

The hearing was held four nights, starting around 10 p.m. to accommodate the 10-hour time difference in Australia. After the last session Thursday, Pell met with the survivors and their supporters, after which he vowed to help them work with the Vatican’s offices that deal with clerical sexual abuse, particularly the pope’s special abuse commission headed by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.

The survivors had told reporters that they had faxed their request to meet with Pope Francis to the Prefecture of the Papal Household — the normal procedure to request a meeting with the pope. Thousands of such requests are received daily.

A source close to Pell told Crux it was a “surprise and a mystery” that the request didn’t arrive, because they had provided the correct contact information and survivors had confirmed their request.

On Friday morning, O’Malley’s panel — the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors — released a statement concerning a meeting between three of the survivors — David Risdale, Andrew Collins, and Peter Blenkiron — with German Rev. Hanz Zollner, a member of the commission.

The four met twice, with Pell helping to arrange the meetings.

The statement said the survivors wanted to meet with a member of the abuse commission “to discuss ideas we have had about healing and the future to protect children from institutional abuse. We know this problem had been wider than the Catholic Church but our experiences have been in this environment. We are keen to develop links with your group as it is a world-wide issue.”

The statement also said that Zollner will report their concerns and proposals to the other members of the commission, which was created by Pope Francis in 2014 to promote best practices in the Church in the fight against child abuse.

After his testimony to the Royal Commission ended, the third time he’s appeared before the body in two years, some demanded that Pell step down. In an interview with journalist Andrew Bolt in Sky News Australia, Pell said he won’t resign from his role in charge of reforming Vatican finances.

“No, I wouldn’t resign. That would be taken as an admission of guilt,” he said. “I mean, if the Holy Father asked me too, I’d point this out, but I’d do whatever he wanted.”

When he turns 75 in June 8, Pell will follow Church policy and present his retirement letter to Francis, but the pope could decide to keep him in his position.

Pope Francis has met survivors of clerical sexual abuse twice: In 2014, when a group of six visited him in Santa Marta, the hotel within Vatican grounds where he has lived since the beginning of his pontificate, and last September, during his visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.