Top papal adviser charged with sexual assault in blow to Vatican

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Australian Cardinal George Pell speaks to journalists at the end of a meeting with sex abuse victims at the Quirinale hotel in Rome on March 3, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

RNS report – SYDNEY/VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Australian police charged a top adviser to Pope Francis with multiple historical sex crimes on Thursday (June 29), in a case that poses a dilemma for a pontiff who has vowed zero tolerance for such offenses.Cardinal George Pell is the Vatican’s de facto treasury minister and is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged with sexual abuse.

He faces “multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offenses” from multiple complainants, said police in the Australian state of Victoria, where Pell was a country priest in the 1970s.

The police did not specify the charges against Pell, 76, nor the ages of the alleged victims nor when the crimes were alleged to have occurred.

The Australian Catholic Church said in a statement that Pell strenuously denied the charges and planned to return to Australia to “clear his name.”

“He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously,” the statement said. It also said his doctors would advise on his travel arrangements … read more

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