Pell returns to Australia today, a month before he faces court

Laura Christensen
July 11, 2017

Cardinal George Pell has returned to Australia on Monday morning, to face court over historical sex abuse charges.

On Sunday, Nine broadcast video of Pell in casual attire with a companion outside an ice cream shop in Singapore.

Cardinal Pell, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, is due to face a Melbourne court on 26 July.

"Tell her that I am", he replied. "News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name", Pell said at his news conference in Rome last month. In his role as the Vatican "Secretariat for the Economy" he is third in charge of the Church answering directly to the Pope. "They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me", he said at the time.

Pell was a priest in Australia in the '70s and '80s, and is now one of the most powerful cardinals in the Vatican, as NPR's Laurel Walmsey wrote in late June.

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"He has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities, for example, in his depositions before the royal commission, has supported the pontifical commission for the protection of minors, and finally - as a diocese and bishop in Australia - has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse", the Holy See said.

"When he was informed of his indictment by the police of the State of Victoria, cardinal Pell said in Rome that" he rejected categorically the accusations, that he was completely innocent and that he would be back in Australia to defend themselves", he said.

Details of the charges have not been made public although police said they involved "multiple complainants".

His court appearance will make him become the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.

While Pell was the archbishop of Sydney, for instance, a man sued the archdiocese over childhood sexual abuse. Australian Catholics were encouraged to pray for the cardinal...

Other reports by My Hot News

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