Cardinal George Pell: “I’m innocent of these charges, they are false.”

Australian authorities allege Vatican's Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy committed sexual abuse many years ago

Cardinal George Pell (Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews)

After Australian police announced that they have charged him on multiple counts of sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell has maintained his innocence, saying he will take leave from his responsibilities in the Vatican to clear his name.

In comments to journalists during a June 29 news briefing at the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Pell said that with the permission of Pope Francis, he will be taking “leave” from his position as the Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy in order “to clear my name.”

“I am looking forward, finally, to having my day in court. I’m innocent of these charges, they are false,” he said, adding that “the whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

Throughout the two years he has been fighting the accusations, there have been various media leaks and “relentless character assassination,” he said, insisting he has been “consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations.”

Pell said that he has regularly kept Pope Francis informed of the process. In the past week, the two have spoken on “many occasions” about “my need to take leave to clear my name,” he said, voicing his gratitude to the Pope “for giving me this leave to return to Australia.”

The charging of Cardinal Pell, who in 2013 was tapped to oversee the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy and is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, makes him the most senior Vatican official to ever be charged with abuse.

On behalf of the Holy See, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke voiced respect for the Australian justice system, which “will have to decide the merits of the questions raised.”

However, at the same time, he said “it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors” and has cooperated with Australian authorities in the past, specifically with his depositions before the Royal Commission.

Moreover, the cardinal has been supportive of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and as a diocesan bishop in Australia, introduced systems and procedures “both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse.”

Burke closed noting that Cardinal Pell will no longer be attending public events while facing the charges, and as such would be absent from the day’s today’s Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, to be celebrated by Pope Francis and attended by all new metropolitan archbishops appointed during the previous year.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

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  1. Steve Seitz says:

    It’s my understanding that most priests get at least one allegation of impropriety in the course of ministry. The vast majority of these are false. The fact that the police are investigating, however, is troubling. Nevertheless, if the police are repeatedly leaking information, it makes me think that the investigation is politically motivated.

  2. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    Do you believe the accusers or do you believe the Cardinal?

    • Tom Byrne says:

      Since the Cardinal returned to Australia quickly and didn’t’t skulk in Rome like our own Cardinal Law, I tend to believe him.

    • Larry Northon says:

      YFC: It’s too early for anyone to think he can answer that question. We have to wait for the adjudication to run its course. Until then, I think the proper attitude is an open mind and a closed mouth.

    • I believe the Cardinal. And I will do so until the accusations against him are proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. That is because I hold to the American system of jurisprudence which has served us well. Might I ask
      whom you believe? Might I also ask if Cardinal Pell’s public adherence to the Church’s settled doctrine on homosexuality and same-sex marriage influenced your decision? Please don’t raise the tiresome red [or rainbow] flag of homophobia to discredit my honest questions. They are just that: questions, not accusations.

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        As you know roberto, I ony bring up homophobia when a commentator reaches for a gay accusation in their response, or if it is part of the article itself.

        If I were on his jury, I’d treat him as innocent until proven guilty. But one of the reasons the sex abuse scandal spread so far and wide is because nobody was willing to believe the accuser, especially if the priest was well liked, or in a high position in the Church. So I think that when the safety of people is concerned, if there is enough evidence to indict, he should be removed from office until the charges can be fully adjucated. The Church must ensure the safety of its members.

        • The primary reason the gay ephebophile abuse scandal spread far and wide is because there were homosexuals in the priesthood.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            Really? How do you explain the straight priests who abused girls?

          • Had the only abuse that occurred been the small number of priests molesting females, there would have been no crisis. The crisis — the large number and clear majority of abuse cases — was HOMOSEXUAL molestation. No homosexuals in the priesthood, no gay ephebophilia crisis, no crisis. Stop denying that homosexuality is a mental disorder. The crisis was caused by homosexuals in the priesthood.

          • YFC,
            I know of very few cases involving girls.

        • Linda Maria says:

          Glad that you desire the safety of children in our Church, YFC!! It is so horrible, the violent cases of gay child and teen sex molestation, by Catholic clergy! St. Mother Teresa even had a confessor for many years, the Jesuit Fr. Donald McGuire, who at the same time, when serving as confessor to Mother Teresa and her nuns — committed horrific sex abuse crimes, on young boys!! Poor Mother Teresa would have wept for days, if she ever knew the truth, of this evil confessor! We all– worldwide– have been deceived by Satan, in these horrific sex abuse crimes, destroying young children’s lives, in our Church!

        • Agreed.

    • Gabriel Espinosa says:

      I believe no one anymore.

  3. Linda Maria says:

    To read all of these allegations in detail- is so devastating! If these details are all placed in front of the public worldwide, during Pell’s court trial — no doubt, the effect will be devastating on everyone!

    • Linda Maria says:

      One can easily read full details of all the allegations, and a history of the alleged crimes, in the “Washington Post.” The news story is neither sensational nor anti-Catholic. However, to read the full allegations, in detail, and the history behind it all— is very disturbing!

  4. Michael McDermott says:

    An article about who is behind this well worth reading:
    “Australia’s Cardinal Pell charged with sex offences
    They may be preposterous, but proving his innocence will be the ultimate test of justice for the courts
    https://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/australias-cardinal-pell-charged-with-sex-offences/20034
    The man ranked third in the Vatican, Australian Cardinal George Pell, has been informed that he will be charged with “historical sexual assault offences” which probably date back to the 1960s… Cardinal Pell…

  5. Michael McDermott says:

    “Australia’s Cardinal Pell – In a statement he said:

    “These matters have been under investigation now for nearly two years. There have been leaks to the media, relentless character assassination and, for more than a month, claims that a decision on laying charges is “imminent”. I am looking forward finally to having my day in court. I repeat that I am innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

    • Linda Maria says:

      Michael McDermott– I have read some scary news stories, regarding this situation– very depressing, for me! Did you happen to read the news story on the situation in Australia, with Pell and others– in the “Washington Post?” If so, perhaps you might offer some of your reflections– you seem to know a lot about these current problems of pedophilia in the Church! Very disturbing, to me!

      • Linda Maria says:

        Michael McDermott– The “Washington Post” news story that I mentioned, appeared on June 29th. It can also be found online.

  6. St. Christopher says:

    Well, we will see what the Vatican, or its Zombie-Liberal-Homosexual-Sexualists have to do with these allegations. One hopes that Cardinal Pell is well represented.

    Also, what a coincidence — oh the horror — that these allegations are made public just as evidence of a drug-fueled Vatican orgy, with (allegedly) a pal of Cardinal Cocopalmerio was made public. Ummm, let’s see, how to get the headlines off this mess? Well, let’s sully the reputation of a fine man and cardinal. That’s the ticket! These leaders of the Church are vile, all the way up.

  7. Joel Fago says:

    The allegations of sexual abuse are from incidents that supposedly happened many years ago. When did the alleged victims first tell anyone about them?
    I have followed Cardinal Pell for years. I believe him.

  8. The fact that the allegations apparently date from over 40 years ago troubles me. Perhaps witnesses favorable to the defense have died. Who knows. As far as I am concerned, if a competent court finds Cardinal Pell guilty, the Vatican should promptly institute proceedings to laicize the Cardinal. The Church can ill afford having top ‘management’ still in office while convicted of child sex abuse.
    The rotten fish scandal is why Cardinal Law is still hiding in Rome. Let him face a trial, if the civil government can prove a case. But, in my opinion, letting him hide in Rome is terrible optics and just plain stinks.

    • mikem— By “competent court”, do you mean the Australian court? More is called for to rightly impose an ecclesiastical penalty. First a canonical trial [at which Cardinal Pell receives absolutely no special treatment] needs to decide whether he committed a “more grave delict” under the Code of Canon Law. If found guilty, a just penalty—including returning him to the lay state—should be imposed, for sure. But not before.

  9. Has anyone else read what Ann Barnhardt has written about Cardinal Pell? She thinks there’s a widespread conspiracy in the Church.

    • Covfefe,
      I tend not to believe conspiracy theories. But I did read the following:

      The Wall Street Journal and a Sidney newspaper report that the Vatican auditor-general, Libero Milone, was unexpectedly fired a few days prior to Pell’s departure. Milone was an autonomous auditor within Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy. Apparently, Pell and Milone have been fighting attempts to remove or negate the reforms that they had put in place.

  10. Linda Maria says:

    There is a news story in the “Washington Post” about this situation- very chilling!

  11. Why is it that feminists/homosexualists trumpet their own made-up merits of homosexuality, but simultaneously pursue every opportunity to condemn clergy for the same conduct? Answer: Because truth and consistency mean nothing to liars who have no objective except to destroy the Church, the only bulwark on Earth which opposes their vices.

  12. Gratias says:

    The press can take anyone out. That is why it is important to defeat them. Cardinal Pell was a conservative voice of reason inside the Vatican. They will all be Spanish-speaking Jesuits soon, and doing the work of Globalism. Laudato Trump.

    • Bob One says:

      Gratias, if you take out the press for one you take it out for everyone. The press must be free or any and all government restraint. For heavens sake, we even let National Inquirer publish their trash every week. What is your issue with a Prelate from a Spanish speaking country. The next one may speak Swahili. I hope I don’t detect a smidgen of discrimination in your voice? If you were elected Pope, what language would you speak? The Pope is also very fluent in Italian on a daily basis, since that is the working language of the Vatican. The Church is Global, by the way. The US is only 6% of the Church. The growth is in the Southern Hemisphere.

      • Linda Maria says:

        I think what is meant in the post of Gratias— is not the language of Latino Spanish-speakers — but the fact that the field of journalism today is irresponsible and corrupt, since the 1960s, especially. Good standards of professionalism, moral decency, and high quality of objective, factual reporting, are gone. Most of the media is strangled by immoral, “politically-correct” liberal-leftists and socialists– who also promote “globalism,” forcing their liberal-leftist, socialist, “politically-correct” society worldwide, on all– destroying all world religions, especially Christianity.

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