Pope Francis is believed to be in an embarrassing position after Australian authorities slapped sex abuse charges against Cardinal George Pell. Now, he has granted leave of absence to the Vatican treasurer, the highest-ranking Catholic official so far to be accused of sexual abuse.
According to Victoria Police, a number of people complained against the 76-year-old. Cardinal Pell has, however, called it an attempt for his character assassination. He claims that he is innocent.
This is not the first time Cardinal Pell’s name is associated with sex abuse allegations. He was earlier accused of mishandling sex abuse accusations against clerics during his tenure as an archbishop. Last year, he was interrogated by Australian detectives at the Vatican itself.
Pell has claimed that he abhors the idea of sexual abuse. But, the incident is anyway shocking for many as Pell is regarded as the third-ranking official in the Holy See. While many may consider it a symbolic move for the Pope to send the Cardinal on leave, Pell has claimed that the pontiff has granted him leave so that he can fight the charges against him, according to the BBC.
Pope Francis is known for having a strong stance against sex abuse allegations against clerics. Soon after his appointment in 2013, Francis formed a commission to investigate such accusations. People believe the Pope might be in an awkward position now as the accused is considered to be one of his top advisers.
Meanwhile, the Vatican seems to have already planned how to go ahead without Pell. According to spokesman Greg Burke, the financial reforms at the Vatican will go on even if Pell is on leave.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) June 29, 2017
According to The Week, even though Cardinal Pell will go on leave, he is not stepping down from the position at the Vatican. He will go back to his native country, Australia, to fight for his innocence.
Australian authorities earlier found that a large number of Catholic priests were accused of sexual abuse, and the alleged cases had taken place between 1950 and 2010. According to Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton, Cardinal Pell is supposed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18.
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