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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cardinal George Pell charged with historical sex offences in Australia

The Pope's chief financial adviser has announced he will take a leave of absence after being charged with historical sex crimes.

Cardinal George Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic cleric, has fiercely denied the multiple allegations against him.
At a news conference on Thursday, he said the two-year investigation had been fuelled by "relentless character assassination".
He has now been called back to Australia and ordered to appear before Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 18 July.
"I am innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me," he told reporters.
"The court proceedings now offer me the opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work."
Cardinal Pell is the third most senior Catholic at the Vatican, where he is responsible for the Church's finances.

He was interviewed in Rome by Australian police last October, with Victoria State Police's deputy commissioner confirming there are multiple complainants relating to the charges.
"It is important to note that none of the allegations that have been made against Cardinal Pell have, obviously, been tested in any court yet," the officer added.

The Cardinal Archdiocese of Sydney said the cleric "will defend the charges vigorously".
A Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis had learned with 'regret' of the charges
Australia has no extradition treaty with the Vatican, but Cardinal Pell is expected to fly there as soon as he receives advice and approval from doctors.

A Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis had learned with "regret" of the charges and had granted the 76-year-old's leave of absence.
The latest allegations will put pressure on the Pope, who has promised to have "zero tolerance" and sack bishops found guilty of abuse - or of covering it up.
Cardinal Pell has previously been accused of mishandling abuse cases while he was Archbishop of Melbourne, and later of Sydney.
In 2014, the Pope created a commission of outside experts to advise him on how to fight abuse and protect children.
That commission's credibility was dented after two survivors of abuse resigned as members, with the Pontiff scrapping one of the commission's key proposals.
Pope Francis was also criticised for appointing a Chilean bishop who had been accused of helping to cover for a paedophile. In a video later made public, he described the bishop's opponents as "leftists" and "stupid".
Regarding the allegations against Cardinal Pell, the Pope said last year: "We have to wait for justice and not make a mediatic judgement, a judgement of gossip, because that won't help.
"Once justice has spoken, I will speak."
The Blue Knot Foundation, an Australian support group for adult survivors of childhood abuse, has said the decision to charge Pell sends a powerful message.
"It upholds that no one is above the law, no matter how high their office, qualifications, or standing," the group said in a statement.

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