Cardinal George Pell has returned to Australia to face historical sexual abuse charges in Melbourne at the end of the month.
The 76-year-old was pictured leaving Sydney Airport early on Monday morning after flying in from the Vatican via Singapore.
Pell didn’t answer questions from reporters before he was whisked out a delivery exit, manned by Australian Federal Police officers, accompanied by a small entourage, Nine News reported.
He left in one of two hire cars waiting outside the airport for him.
It’s not clear how long he will remain in Sydney before his court hearing in Melbourne later this month.
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Cardinal George Pell was whisked out of a delivery exit after arriving at Sydney Airport on Monday morning
Cardinal George Pell has touched down in Sydney to face historical sexual abuse charges
The 76-year-old arrived in his native Australia on Monday after being spotted in Singapore
In a statement issued on behalf of Pell later on Monday morning, it was revealed that he had taken several days to return home to Australia on medical advice.
‘Cardinal George Pell has returned to Australia to defend sexual abuse charges,’ it said.
‘When he was told of the charges by Victoria Police Cardinal Pell said in Rome that he totally rejected the allegations, was completely innocent of the charges and would return to Australia to vigorously defend himself and clear his name.
‘His return today the bshoukld not be a surprise.’
It added: ‘Before leaving rome the Cardinal consulted his doctors and on their advice took several days to return home breaking his journey in a number of places to avoid long-haul flights.
‘Cardinal Pell will not be making further comment other than to say he is grateful for the numerous messages of support he continues to receive.’
Pell didn’t answer questions from reporters before he was whisked out a delivery exit and into one of two hire cars waiting for him
Pell is on leave of absence to defend himself and will appear in a Melbourne court on July 26
Dressed in casual attire, he was seen sitting with a friend at an ice-cream shop in Singapore on Saturday in a video obtained by the Nine Network.
The clip was taken by a tourist, who told Pell that his mother want wanted to know if he was innocent.
‘Tell her that I am,’ Pell replied.
Channel 9 published the video on its Facebook page late on Saturday and said it had been taken earlier in the day.
The video marked the first time he has been seen in public outside Rome since police charged him.
Victoria Police charged Pell, a former Melbourne and Sydney archbishop and Ballarat priest, with multiple sex offences on June 30.
Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, was spotted at an ice cream shop in Singapore
Victoria Police charged Pell late last month, making the Vatican economy minister the highest-ranking Church official to face such accusations
It makes the the Vatican economy minister the highest-ranking Church official to face such accusations.
But Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, has insisted he is innocent and is looking forward to fighting the charges in court.
The cardinal , a top adviser to Pope Francis, has taken a leave of absence as the Vatican’s financial chief to fight the charges.
He told reporters in Rome in June that the laying of charges had strengthened his resolve to prove his innocence.
‘There has been relentless character assassination,’ he told reporters in Rome after the charges were laid.
‘I’m looking forward, finally, to having my day in court.
‘I’m innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.’
He is due to appear in a Melbourne court on July 26.
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