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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Cardinal George Pell: I'm Innocent - Catholic 3rd Most Senior Priest Denies Sex Abuse Charge

Cardinal George Pell: I'm Innocent - Catholic 3rd Most Senior Priest Denies Sex Abuse Charge

Cardinal George Pell
Photo Source: BBC News

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasurer accused of sex offences in his native Australia has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, descrbing the charge against him as "character assassination", BBC News reports.

The cleric also said the claims against him are "false".

According to BBC News, Pell said the Pope had granted him a leave of absence to fight the charges.

The charges relate to alleged "historical" incidents, police in the state of Victoria said.

The allegations were made by a number of people, said Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton.

Cardinal Pell, 76, who is based in the Vatican, is considered the third-ranking official in the Holy See.

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He told a news conference at the Holy See: "I'm 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."

The Catholic Church worldwide has in recent years faced a damaging series of allegations relating to sex abuse by priests, and claims that these cases were covered up.

The BBC's James Reynolds says the charges leave the Church - and the Pope - in an uncomfortable position.

After his election in 2013, Pope Francis created a commission to deal with allegations of sexual abuse by clerics. Now he finds that one of his closest advisers faces charges of his own.

The Vatican's child abuse response

What are the charges?

Victoria Police said they had made the decision to charge Cardinal Pell after receiving advice from prosecutors last month.

"Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants," Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

Details of the allegations were not revealed.

Deputy Commissioner Patton said police "process and procedures" had been no different from any other investigation.

"Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation," he said.

The charges were served on Cardinal Pell's legal representatives in Melbourne on Thursday.

The cardinal would be required to face the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 18 July, Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

A magistrate will decide next week whether to release the details and the nature of the charges ahead of the cardinal's court appearance.

Culled from BBC

Photo Source: BBC News

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