VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on Vatican Cardinal George Pell being charged with sex offenses in Australia (all times local):
Vatican analysts say Pope Francis is now facing pressure to make good on promises to forcefully confront the sex abuse crisis after his top financial adviser was charged in his native Australia with multiple criminal counts of sexual assault years ago.
Cardinal George Pell says he is taking a leave of absence as the Vatican’s finance czar after Australian police charged him with multiple counts of “historical” sexual assault. Pell appeared before reporters on Thursday to deny the accusations and denounce what he called a “relentless character assassination.”
Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, an online archive of clerical sex abuse documents, said she was surprised by the charges “simply because of their boldness.”
In an email to The Associated Press, she said: “Some say Pell is being scapegoated. While Pell undeniably is the poster boy for the Australian church’s wrongdoing, false allegations are relatively rare.”
The Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis has appreciated Cardinal George Pell’s honesty and commitment during his three years working to reform the Vatican’s finances.
In a statement read to reporters Thursday, spokesman Greg Burke recalled that Pell has “openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable” acts of sexual abuse against minors.
He noted that Pell has cooperated with Australia’s Royal Commission investigation into sex abuse and that as a bishop in Australia, worked to…
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