Cardinal George Pell charged with historical sex offences
Sydney, June 29: After years of fighting allegations of sexual abuse and negligence in handling abuse cases, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's top finance man, will be charged on multiple counts of abuse, Australian police announced Wednesday.
Pell, who has fervently denied the allegations, will be charged on summons, and will be required to return to Melbourne in July order to answer the charges. Cardinal Pell is the third most senior Catholic at the Vatican, where he is responsible for the church's finances.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Victoria police were the ones who decided to charge the cardinal. In a June 29 statement, Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said Pell is facing "multiple charges in respect to historic sexual offenses," which multiple complaints in each of the charges.
Due to heavy media speculation surrounding the investigation, Patton clarified that "the process and the procedures that have been followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offenses whenever we investigate them."
"There has been no change in any procedures whatsoever," he said, noting that Pell has been treated the same as anyone else.
Who is Pell?
Australia's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, George Pell, has been a strong supporter of traditional Catholic values, taking a conservative stance on same-sex marriage and contraception, and advocating priestly celibacy.
But his career has been dogged first by claims that he covered up child sexual abuse by priests, and then later that he was himself an abuser. He has always strongly denied any wrongdoing.
On 29 June 2017 he was charged with historical sex offences and has vowed to clear his name.
Cardinal Pell was born in the city of Ballarat, near Melbourne, Victoria, in 1941, the son of an Anglican father and an Irish Roman Catholic mother.
His early education was at Loreto Convent and later at St Patrick's College where he excelled in sports, particularly Australian Rules football.