It’s official, Cardinal George Pell is being charged with historic sex offences. Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton from Victoria Police said he is ordered to appear at a Melbourne Magistrates on July 18th.
The alleged offences have been made by multiple complainants and are alleged to occur in Ballarat in the 1970’s. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Pell will be charged with at least three serious offences – including at least one count of rape. Precise details of the charges are still unknown.
Cardinal Pell has maintained his innocence during this process.
The summons were placed upon Pell’s legal representation. Yet, with the Cardinal being in the Vatican and Australia having no extradition treaty with the city, he could avoid prosecution. However, he is expected to come to fight the charges.
Sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church first came to public attention in 2002, when the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team broke the story of former priest John J. Keoghan and his alleged three decade reign of terror on children in his care.
However, with Cardinal George being in charge of the Vatican’s finances, it puts him third in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. In 1996, the then-Archbishop was the first to address sex abuse in the church, instigating the Melbourne Response.
“It’s a matter of regret that the Catholic Church has taken some time to come to grips with the sex abuse issue adequately,” he said at the time.
In October last year, three Victorian police detectives travelled to the Vatican to speak to the Cardinal, where he “voluntarily participated” in the interview.
During his statement, the Deputy Commissioner stated that the process of charging Cardinal Pell was the same way they would charge anyone in regards to historic sense offences.
“It is important to note that none of the allegations that have been made against Cadinal Pell have obviously been tested in any court yet. Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process. And so therefore, it is important that the process is allowed to run it’s natural course,” he said.
The police will make no further statements on the matter.
The Archdiocese has released a statement:
Cardinal Pell has released a statement:
“These charges strengthen my resolve and the court proceedings now offer me the opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work,” he said.
“These matters have been under investigation now for two years. There have been leaks to the media. There have been relentless character assassinations. And for more than one month, claims that a decision on whether to lay charges was imminent.”