George Pell, 76, one of Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric faces multiple charges in relation to the Church’s abuse scandal. Pell denies the charges and has taken a leave of absence until the criminal case against him is concluded.

At a news conference Pell told reporters, “I am innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me. The court proceedings now offer me the opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work.”

He is ordered to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on the 18th July 2017.

Australian Police interviewed Pell in Rome last October and it was confirmed that there were “multiple complainants relating to the charges”. As Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, Pell was criticised for mishandling abuse cases.

The Pope who has promised, “zero tolerance and that he would sack Bishops found guilty of abuse or of covering it up” is now under pressure. A spokesperson for the Vatican has said that Pope Francis learned of the charges against Pell with “regret” and “had granted him a leave of absence.”

In 2014, the Pope commissioned outside experts to advise him on, “how to fight abuse and protect children.” He has confirmed that he will comment on the charges against Pell, “Once justice has spoken.”

An Australian Support group for adult survivors of childhood abuse, “ The Blue Knot Foundation” has made a statement saying that the decision to charge Pell, “It upholds that no one is above the law, no matter how high their office, qualifications, or standing.”

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