Australian Curia Cardinal George Pell – one of the highest dignitaries in the Vatican – could face charges in his home country. It is about allegations of abuse of children, which Pell himself had repeatedly denied.
The Melbourne prosecutor's office has recommended that police file charges against the Vatican's finance minister, Australian media reported Wednesday. Police had said they would carefully consider the prosecutor's recommendation.
Meanwhile, in Rome, Australian Cardinal Pell protested his innocence in an interview with Australian television station 9News. However, he will "of course" cooperate with authorities, Pell said. The cardinal had already been questioned by Australian police officers in Rome in October 2016 about the abuse allegations. Two men over 40 years old accuse Pell of sexually assaulting them at a swimming pool in Ballarat in the 1970s. At the time, Pell was a priest in the city.
In 2014, Pope Francis appointed the then-Archbishop of Sydney as prefect of the newly created Vatican Secretariat for the Economy. Pell also serves on the Council of Cardinals, which advises the pope on curia reform.
Multiple allegations against Pell
Allegations of sexual abuse against Pell had also arisen earlier. In 2002, Pell was acquitted of abuse charges by a commission of inquiry of the Archdiocese of Melbourne due to lack of evidence. A man had accused Pell of sexually abusing him when he was twelve years old at a Catholic youth camp.
Cardinal Pell has also long faced allegations of involvement in covering up abuse cases as a priest in Ballarat and later as archbishop of Melbourne. In his testimony before the State Abuse Commission, Pell had vigorously denied accusations of covering up abuse cases. As Archbishop of Melbourne, however, Pell had also set the first standards for dealing with abuse cases with the "Melbourne Response".