Pell returns to Australia today, a month before he faces court

Cardinal George Pell has touched down in Sydney to face historical sexual abuse charges
Cardinal George Pell has touched down in Sydney to face historical sexual abuse charges
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11 July, 2017

Cardinal George Pell, the senior Vatican cleric accused of multiple counts of historical sexual abuse, has returned to Australia to stand trial.

On Sunday, images emerged of a casual Cardinal Pell at an ice-cream shop in Singapore's main tourist strip Orchard Road. He is due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26 for a filing hearing.

"Tell her that I am", Cardinal Pell responded.

When he was charged last month, Cardinal Pell said he believed the idea of sexual abuse was "abhorrent" to him. Pell is the top financial adviser to the pope, while Pope Francis has pledged to have zero tolerance for sexual abuse within the church.

Pell appeared before the commission three times, once in person and twice via video-link from Rome.

"News of these charges strengthens my resolve".

The 76-year-old arrived in his native Australia on Monday after being spotted in Singapore
The 76-year-old arrived in his native Australia on Monday after being spotted in Singapore

"We talked about my need to take leave to clear my name, I'm very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia".

Australian Cardinal George Pell looks on as he makes a statement at the Holy See Press Office in Vatican City on June 29, after being charged with historical sex offenses.

It sang praises for Pell's honesty and work for the Vatican economy, and urged all parties to remember that the Cardinal himself has openly condemned sexual abuse against minors.

The former Melbourne archbishop said that he was innocent of these charges and was waiting to prove it in court, although he said in an earlier interview that he "mucked up" in some cases of paedophile priests in the 1970s.

Pell told an Australian government inquiry into institutional child abuse that the Church had made "enormous mistakes" and "catastrophic" choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counselling of priests to solve the problem.

There are multiple alleged victims but police have released no further details of the accusations.

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