A top adviser of Pope Francis is embroiled in a controversy involving accusations of sexual offenses. Australia’s move to bring charges against Cardinal George Pell is the latest chapter in a damaging saga of abuse within the [Roman Whore] Church and brings a worldwide scandal to the heart of the Vatican.
Aside from being a senior adviser of the pope, the third-ranking official in the [un]Holy See and Australia’s most senior cleric, the 76-year-old cardinal was also appointed Vatican economy minister in 2014. Needless to say, he is one of the highest-ranking officials in the Catholic world.
The charges relate to multiple historical sex crimes in the state of Victoria. Two men came forward last year accusing Cardinal Pell of touching them inappropriately in the 1970s. He dismissed the allegations as a “scandalous smear campaign.” He was also accused of covering up other abuses committed by other priests.
Police filed the charges upon the prosecutor’s advice last month. Cardinal Pell will be compelled to face the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on July 26. The court will also decide next week whether to release the details and the nature of the charges ahead of the cardinal’s court appearance.
Asked what he thought about the accusations against the cardinal, Pope Francis said he would defer to the courts before making his own judgment. “One mustn’t judge before justice judges,” he told reporters last year. The pontiff gave Cardinal Pell a leave of absence to defend himself.
The Vatican issued a statement praising Pell’s work in combating sex abuse, including cooperating with authorities and introducing systems protect and assist minors in Australia. “Cardinal Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors,” it said.
In a press conference, Cardinal Pell said he is looking forward to having his day in court and will travel to Australia if his doctors permitted it. He also said he is innocent of the false charges and abhors the idea of sexual abuse. He also lamented on the “relentless character assassination directed against him.
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