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Cardinal George Pell returns home to face historical child sex charges
11 July 2017, 12:45 | Katrina Lee
Cardinal George Pell arrives in Sydney ahead of court appearance on sex abuse charges
Cardinal George Pell, Australia's highest ranking Catholic, has returned to Australia after being charged with historical sex offences.
On Sunday, Nine broadcast video of Pell in casual attire with a companion outside an ice cream shop in Singapore.
In his response, Pell said: "Tell her that I am".
Cardinal Pell has vigorously denied the charges, saying he is looking forward to appearing in court and accusing the media of "a relentless character assassination".
It was his first appearance outside of Rome since police laid the charges. "They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me", he said.
"News of these charges strengthens my resolve".
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Pell was a priest in Australia in the '70s and '80s, and is now one of the most powerful cardinals in the Vatican, as NPR's Laurel Walmsey wrote in late June. "At the same time, it's important to recall that Cardinal Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse against minors". Similar scandals have since been discovered around the world.
Cardinal Pell, 76, is due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26, after Victoria Police charged him over a number of alleged historical sexual offences. He took the Vatican role in 2014.
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.
The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop has always maintained his innocence and strenuously denies the allegations.
The lawyer presiding over this work, Gail Furness, had announced in February that 4.444 facts of paedophilia had been reported to the authorities of the Church in australia and that between 1950 and 2010, "7% of priests were accused" of sexual abuse of children.
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