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Church \ Church in Oceania

Cardinal Pell: I'm totally innocent of these charges

Cardinal George Pell speaks to the media at a the Holy See Press Office. The Press Office has released a statement concerning Cardinal Pell's response to charges filed against him in Australia. - ANSA

Cardinal George Pell speaks to the media at a the Holy See Press Office. The Press Office has released a statement concerning Cardinal Pell's response to charges filed against him in Australia. - ANSA

29/06/2017 09:34

(Vatican Radio) “I’m totally innocent of these charges.”

At a press conference Thursday morning at the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, forcefully denied charges of “historical” sexual offences filed against him by Australian police. "All along I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations," he said. 

In brief remarks ahead of an official statement by the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Pell said he has kept Pope Francis regularly informed of the situation. He expressed his gratitude to the Pope for granting him leave to return to Australia to clear his name.

Cardinal Pell was critical of media leaks concerning the situation, and lamented the “relentless character assassination directed against him. “I’m looking forward, finally, to my day in court,” the Cardinal said, proclaiming his innocence and denouncing the charges as false. “The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me,” he said. 

In its official statement, the Holy See Press Office said, “The Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia against Card. George Pell for decades-old actions that have been attributed to him.” It noted that Cardinal Pell has chosen to return to Australia “in full respect for civil laws… recognizing the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly, and to foster the search for truth.” During his absence, the statement noted that the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy “will continue to carry out its institutional tasks.”

The Press Office statement goes on to say, “The Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration, and in particular, for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9).”

After expressing the Holy See’s “respect for the Australian justice system,” the statement also noted that Cardinal Pell “has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors; has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities (for example, in his depositions before the Royal Commission); has supported the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

Below, please find the full text of the Statement of the Holy See Press Office:

The Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia against Card. George Pell for decades-old actions that have been attributed to him. Having become aware of the charges, Card. Pell, acting in full respect for civil laws, has decided to return to his country to face the charges against him, recognizing the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly, and to foster the search for truth. The Holy Father, having been informed by Card. Pell, has granted the Cardinal a leave of absence so he can defend himself. During the Prefect’s absence, the Secretariat for the Economy will continue to carry out its institutional tasks. The Secretaries will remain at their posts to carry forward the ordinary affairs of the dicastery, donec aliter provideatur. The Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration, and in particular, for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9). The Holy See expresses its respect for the Australian justice system that will have to decide the merits of the questions raised. At the same time, it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors; has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities (for example, in his depositions before the Royal Commission); has supported the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse.

Remarks of Cardinal George Pell:

Statement of Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office: 

29/06/2017 09:34