TheJournal.ie uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Click here to find out more »
Dublin: 2 °C Monday 18 December, 2017
Advertisement

Cardinal Pell returns to Australia to face abuse charges

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop has always maintained his innocence.

Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell
Image: Gregorio Borgia

VATICAN FINANCE CHIEF Cardinal George Pell arrived back in Australia today ahead of a court appearance later this month over historical sex abuse charges.

The 76-year-old, a top advisor to Pope Francis, touched down in Sydney and was met by security before being whisked away in a waiting car.

He has been ordered to face a Melbourne court on 26 July for a preliminary hearing on multiple sexual assault charges related to offences allegedly committed decades ago, when he was a senior cleric in Australia.

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop has always maintained his innocence and strenuously denies the allegations. Details of the charges have not been made public although police said they involved “multiple complainants”.

A spokesperson for Pell said in a statement he would be making no comment, but was grateful for “the numerous messages of support he continues to receive”.

“When he was told of the charges by Victoria Police Cardinal Pell said in Rome he totally rejected the allegations, was completely innocent of the charges and would return to Australia to vigorously defend himself and clear his name,” said the statement.

“His return today then should not be a surprise.”

Pell, unofficially considered the number three in the Vatican hierarchy, said from Rome after being charged late last month that he was “looking forward finally to having my day in court”.

“I am innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me,” he said at the time.

Pell has been granted a leave of absence by the Pope, who made clear the cardinal would not be forced to resign his post as head of the Vatican’s powerful economic ministry.

The charges coincided with the final stages of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, ordered in 2012 after a decade of pressure to investigate widespread allegations of institutional paedophilia.

The commission has spoken to thousands of survivors and heard claims of child abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools.

Pell appeared before the commission three times, once in person and twice via video-link from Rome. In one hearing, he admitted that he “mucked up” in dealing with paedophile priests in Victoria state in the 1970s.

© AFP 2017   

Comments closed for legal reasons. 

Read: Galway Christian church leaders line up to condemn mosque attack>

Read: South Dublin council attempting to rezone school grounds so Catholic Church can’t sell them>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS

Trending Tags