By Steve Dellar  |  05-01-2018   News
Photo credit: Twitter @_SarahAbo

The treasurer of the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, just became the highest-ranked Catholic ever to be sent to trial over historic sex offences in Melbourne court. Surrounded by a large police presence, the 76-year-old cardinal mostly listened passively during the hearing which ordered him to face a jury on "multiple" charges.

Most of the charges against him, including some of the most serious were thrown out, but enough remain to imprison the man if a court decides to.

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The top aide to Rome’s Pop Frances pleaded ‘not guilty’ when asked his plea, not changing the stance he took ever since the first allegations surfaced.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BREAKING?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BREAKING</a>: A Melbourne magistrate has committed Cardinal George Pell to stand trial on a historical sexual offence charge. The magistrate is part way through her ruling on whether there’s enough evidence to send Cardinal Pell to trial on multiple historical sexual offence charges</p>&mdash; ABC Melbourne (@abcmelbourne) <a href="https://twitter.com/abcmelbourne/status/991111820004941825?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 1, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Melbourne magistrate Ms Belinda Wallington said the state was very "satisfied" that there was still more than enough evidence for a conviction on "multiple" charges. Another hearing tomorrow will discuss a trial date.

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Cardinal Pell heard that he would be released on bail for the time being on the condition that he remains in Australia. The court heard via his lawyer that Mr Pell had already handed in his passport.

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop decided to take a long leave of stay from the Vatican so he could come to Australia and face the allegations.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">And here is why it is so important - The charges against Cardinal George Pell – explainer <a href="https://t.co/KSbJUvo84h">https://t.co/KSbJUvo84h</a></p>&mdash; Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) <a href="https://twitter.com/AmyRemeikis/status/991113683144077314?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 1, 2018</a></blockquote>

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A statement of the Archdiocese of Sydney said: "Cardinal George Pell has at all times fully cooperated with Victoria Police and always and steadfastly maintained his innocence."

"He has voluntarily returned to Australia to meet these accusations. He will defend the remaining charges."

Ms Lisa Flynn, who has represented many abuse survivors of the Catholic Church in the past, said: "The charging of Pell for these alleged crimes reinforces that people should be and are treated equally in the eyes of the law."

"This is a promising step forward for victims of sexual assault."

Mr Pell was appointed by Pope Francis himself in 2014 to become the Vatican’s treasures, following a steep rise from Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney until he was appointed to the Vatican's College of Cardinals in 2003.

Source:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/australian-cardinal-george-pells-sex-abuse-case-to-go-to-trial-1525136378

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