Cardinal Pell arrives in Australia to face sexual offence charges

The Vatican cleric, who is the economic adviser to Pope Francis, will appear before court

Cardinal George Pell said in a  in a statement he ‘consulted his doctors and on their advice took several days to return home’. File photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Cardinal George Pell said in a in a statement he ‘consulted his doctors and on their advice took several days to return home’. File photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

 

A top Vatican official charged in his native Australia with historical sex crimes arrived in Sydney on Monday ahead of his first court appearance later this month.

Australia’s Nine Entertainment Co Ltd broadcast video of Cardinal George Pell being whisked away from Sydney airport early on Monday morning.

Australian police said late last month Cardinal Pell, an adviser to Pope Francis, faced multiple charges of “historical sexual offences” from multiple complainants. That makes the Vatican economy minister the highest-ranking Church official to face such accusations.

Cardinal Pell has declared his innocence and said he would return to Australia to clear his name.

The Sydney Catholic archdiocese said on Monday Cardinal Pell’s return “should not be a surprise” because he had already said he would return to defend himself against the charges.

It said in a statement Cardinal Pell “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 had said he was too sick to fly home to testify at a government inquiry into child abuse in 2016.

On Sunday, Nine broadcast video of Cardinal Pell in casual attire with a companion outside an ice cream shop in Singapore. The tourist who took the video told Pell his mother wanted to know if he was innocent.

“Tell her that I am,” Cardinal Pell said.

Cardinal Pell is on leave of absence to defend himself and that video marked the first time he had been seen in public outside Rome since police charged him.

He is due to appear in a Melbourne court on July 26th.

Reuters