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Vatican Cardinal to face child sexual abuse charges in Australia
11 July 2017, 12:44 | Colleen Roy
Cardinal George Pell returns home to face historical child sex charges
Last week, it was reported that several Australian Catholics had set-up a fund to pay for the cardinal's legal fees after the Diocese of Sydney said that it would only pay for his accommodation and living costs.
A top Vatican official charged in his native Australia with historical sex crimes arrived in Sydney on Monday ahead of his first court appearance later this month. Cardinal Pell, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing, is due to face a Melbourne court on July 26.
Thomas Doyle, a former Catholic priest and a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, told NPR last week that before these allegations, Pell had already been criticized for his treatment of victims of clerical sex abuse.
"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.
Cardinal Pell says he is innocent, and is looking forward to fighting the charges in court.
Pell told an Australian government inquiry into institutional child abuse that the Church had made "enormous mistakes" and "catastrophic" choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counselling of priests to solve the problem. "Pell instructed his lawyers to fight the civil charges as vigorously possible", Doyle said.
Pell later testified, under oath, that this was his strategy. In his role as the Vatican "Secretariat for the Economy" he is third in charge of the Church answering directly to the Pope.
Until recently, Pell was accused of mishandling assault cases, not of carrying out assaults himself.
His return comes less than two weeks after Victoria Police confirmed he had been charged on summons in relation to multiple historical sexual abuse allegations.
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