Pope Francis has offered his support to cardinal George Pell over sex offence charges that were laid on Thursday, as it’s revealed he will not return to the Vatican.
Pope Francis offered his support for Cardinal Pell on Thursday but expressed his respect for the Australian judicial system.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Pontiff said: ‘The Holy See expresses its respect for the Australian justice system, which will have to decide the merits of the questions raised’.
Cardinal George Pell will not return to the Vatican as the Pope’s top finance official after he was charged with historic sex offences in Australia, insiders say. He is pictured in 2014
‘At the same time it is important to recall Cardinal Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned, as immoral and intolerable, the acts of abuse against minors,’ he said.
‘He has co-operated in the past with Australian authorities — for example, in his deposition before the royal commission; he has supported the pontifical commission for the protection of minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse.’
While Cardinal Pell has the support of Pope Francis, Vatican insiders are reportedly preparing to force him out of his high-profile role.
Cardinal George Pell, who was promoted to the Vatican three years ago, will reportedly be pensioned off regardless of whether he is convicted of historic sex offenses.
The decision will be made to ward off criticism and salvage the church’s reputation.
‘That is the end of the road for George Pell in the Vatican, regardless of the outcome, he will be pensioned off when the court case finishes,’ a Vatican insider told The Australian.
The 76-year-old furiously protested his innocence in a statement delivered at the Holy See on Thursday
Pell is highly unlikely to return to Rome because Pope Francis (pictured) will do all he can to reduce the Church’s reputational damage, a Vatican insider said
Cardinal Pell was charged on Thursday with with ‘historic sex offences’ stemming from ‘multiple complainants’ and is due to face Melbourne Magistrates court on July 26.
He appeared to know police were preparing to file charges when he was asked about the allegations outside his Vatican home the night prior.
‘I am co-operating,’ he told the Herald Sun, when asked if he would return home.
Vatican insiders are already arranging to pension off Australia’s most senior Catholic, even he is found not guilty of the latest charges to rock the Church
It comes as Cardinal Pell said in a statement on Thursday morning that he was looking forward to returning to the Vatican after he ‘cleared his name’.
The 76-year-old furiously protested his innocence in a statement delivered at the Holy See on Thursday, saying he was ‘looking forward’ to having his day in court.
‘News of these charges strengthens my resolve, strengthens my resolve,’ he said.
‘And court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work.’
His comments come as the Vatican revealed he will no longer appear at public events, including a mass on Thursday.
Cardinal George Pell railed against ‘relentless character assassination’ which he claims to have experienced since Victoria Police launched its investigation two years ago
In his statement, he took aim at leaks from the police investigation in his home state of Victoria.
‘These matters have been under investigation now for two years,’ said Pell.
‘There have been leaks to the media. There has been relentless character assassination. Relentless character assassination!
‘And for more than a month, claims that a decision on whether to lay charges was imminent.
‘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.’
The Church’s third most senior official, Pell says he will return to Australia to fight the historic sex charges, upon the advice of his doctors in Rome
News of the charges broke in the early hours of Thursday morning local time. The Cardinal is pictured leaving his home in Rome to deliver a statement
Crisis: The charges have shaken the Vatican establishment (St Peter’s Square pictured), with the Church announcing Pell will no longer appear at church events
Pell is the highest-ranking official to be charged in the sex abuse scandal that has dogged the Catholic Church for years.
The prelate said he had kept Pope Francis in the loop over the investigation, last speaking to him just days ago about his need to ‘clear his name’.
Pell said: ‘I have spoken to (Pope Francis) on a number of occasions in the last week, I think – most recently, a day or so ago.
‘We talked about my need to take leave to clear my name.
‘So I’m very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia.
‘I’ve spoken to my lawyers about when this will be necessary. And I’ve spoken to my doctors about the best way to achieve this.’
Pell said he had been ‘completely consistent and clear’ in totally rejecting the allegations.
Pell (pictured left in Vatican City last year) said: ‘I have spoken to (Pope Francis) on a number of occasions in the last week, I think – most recently, a day or so ago
Pell, who furiously protested his innocence, is pictured arriving to address the media on Thursday
CARDINAL GEORGE PELL’S FULL STATEMENT ON SEX CHARGES
I want to say one or two brief words about my situation.
These matters have been under investigation now for two years. There have been leaks to the media.
There has been relentless character assassination. A relentless character assassination.
And for more than a month, claims that a decision on whether to lay charges was imminent. 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.
I’ve kept Pope Francis – the Holy Father – regularly informed during these long months.
I have spoken to him on a number of occasions in the last week, I think – most recently, a day or so ago.
We talked about my need to take leave to clear my name.
So I’m very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia.
I’ve spoken to my lawyers about when this will be necessary. And I’ve spoken to my doctors about the best way to achieve this.
All along, I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations.
News of these charges strengthens my resolve, strengthens my resolve.
And court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work.
Cardinal George Pell has been charged over sex abuse allegations (pictured eating in Italy)
It is understood Cardinal Pell has been summoned to Australia from Rome in relation to the charges (pictured sipping on a beer while dining in Italy)
Victoria Police revealed the charges during a press conference on Thursday.
‘Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences. There are multiple complainants relating to those charges,’ Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton said.
‘Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation. Advice was received and sought from the office of public prosecutions, however ultimately, the choice to charge Cardinal Pell was one that was made by Victoria Police.’
Police would not specify the nature of the charges and said they would not comment on the allegations again.
Cardinal Pell said in a release he will return to Australia to fight the charges and ‘clear his name’
Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton confirmed police have charged Cardinal Pell with sex offences (pictured is the press conference)
Victoria Police revealed the charges against Pell (pictured leaving his home in Rome on Thursday) during a press conference
A spokesman responded to the charges after a couple of hours.
‘Although it is still in the early hours of the morning in Rome, Cardinal George Pell has been informed of the decision and action of Victoria Police,’ the statement said.
‘He has again strenuously denied all allegations.’
‘Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors who will also advise on his travel arrangements.’
‘He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously.’
Cardinal Pell has always strongly denied all allegations.
CARDINAL PELL’S RISE THROUGH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
June 8, 1941 – Born in Ballarat, Victoria
December 16, 1966 – Ordained a Catholic priest
1971-1972 – Assistant priest Swan Hill parish
1973-1983 – Assistant priest Ballarat East parish
1973 – Shared St Alipius presbytery with Gerald Ridsdale (later revealed as Australia’s worst pedophile priest) and Monsignor William McMahon
1973-1984 – Episcopal Vicar for Education in Diocese of Ballarat; founding member of Catholic Education Commission of Victoria
1981-1984 – Principal of Institute of Catholic Education (now merged with Australian Catholic University)
1984 – Administrator of Bungaree parish
July 16, 1987 – Ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Melbourne
1987-1996 – Parish priest Mentone, Bishop for the southern region of Melbourne
1988-1997 – Chair of Caritas Australia
May 27, 1993 – Accompanies Ridsdale to his first court appearance. Later says it was a mistake to show priestly solidarity and he did not know full extent of Ridsdale’s crimes
June 16, 1996 – Appointed Archbishop of Melbourne by Pope John Paul II
August 16, 1996 – Installed as archbishop
October 1996 – Announces Melbourne Response protocol for handling sex abuse complaints in Melbourne archdiocese
March 26, 2001 – Appointed Archbishop of Sydney by Pope John Paul II
May 10, 2001 – Installed as archbishop
April 21, 2003 – Awarded Centenary Medal by Australian government
September 28, 2003 – Elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals by John Paul II
2005 – Appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia
February, 2007 – Appointed to Council of Cardinals on Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See
April, 2013 – Appointed by Pope Francis to group of eight cardinals to advise on government of the universal Church and study plan for revising Apostolic Constitution of Roman Curia
May, 2013 – Gives evidence to Victorian parliamentary inquiry into handling of abuse by religious and other organisations in Melbourne
February 25, 2014 – Appointed as Prefect for the newly-created Secretariat for the Economy, Holy See
March 2014 – Gives evidence to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse in Sydney
August 2014 – Second royal commission appearance via videolink from the Vatican, to Melbourne hearing on the Melbourne Response
February 29 – March 3, 2016 – Third royal commission appearance, via videolink from Rome hotel conference room to Sydney; hearing on church’s handling of abuse allegations in Ballarat diocese and Melbourne archdiocese.
June 29, 2017 – Charged with multiple, historical sex offences, set to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on July 18.
Source: The Australian Associated Press
The Sano taskforce, which investigates allegations of sexual offences, has been investigating Cardinal Pell since 2016
Cardinal Pell was appointed to the Vatican’s Secretariat of Economy in 2014, the third highest ranked position within the church
Cardinal Pell appeared via video-link for a public hearing during Australia’s national -abuse Royal Commission in early 2015.
When he was asked to fly to Australia to appear in person, he declined, citing health problems.
The Cardinal was interviewed by three detectives from Task Force Sano in Rome in October 2016, who updated evidence.
The Office of Public Prosecutions submitted a second brief of evidence on Cardinal Pell to the police last month.
The summary said charges could be laid against Pell based on the evidence but that it was up to police to decide how to proceed.
Pell sits as he prepares to make a statement, at the Vatican. ‘I’m innocent of these charges. They are false,’ he said
Pell (pictured) has always strongly denied all allegations of abuse
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