The Pope’s financial adviser, third-highest cardinal in the Vatican and most senior Catholic priest in Australia, Cardinal George Pell has been summoned to appear in court in his native Australia next month after he was charged with multiple child sex offences.
This is coming after detectives in Victoria, where Pell was a country priest in the 1970s, began investigated complaints of historic offences last year.
Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences. There are multiple complainants relating to those charges.
The process and procedures being followed had been the same as those applied “in a whole range of historical sex offences, whenever we investigate them.
The fact that he has been charged on summons — we have used advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions and also we have engaged with his legal representatives, which is common and standard practice.
Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton told a news conference in Melbourne adding that Pell was charged by summons to appear before a Melbourne court on July 18.
The 76-year old, was a priest in the rural Victorian town of Ballarat before he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. He has lived at the Vatican since 2014.
The Catholic Church in Australia said Cardinal Pell “strenuously denies” the sex assault charges.
Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name. He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said in a statement.