One of the Pope’s top advisors is facing sex abuse charges in Australia. Cardinal George Pell the Vatican’s economy minister, last month became the most senior Catholic to be charged with sex crimes. They stem from his time in the 1970’s and 80’s in the former gold town of Ballarat, just over 100km outside of Melbourne.
Pell, aged 76 has denied the charges, calling them false and the result of a “relentless character assassination”
George Pell confirms he will attend Melbourne court hearing https://t.co/8Y3z40ruQ6— ABC News Melbourne (@abcnewsMelb) July 24, 2017
Police have yet to release details of the charges, but the start of Pell’s court battle in Melbourne re-visits a troubled past for Ballarat. In a state government enquiry, shocking accounts of abuse and cover-ups crossing generations have been exposed across the region and with allegations against seventeen priests in Ballarat alone.
Before he was charged, Pell’s seniority and political connections increased frustrations for many abuse survivors as they felt that he was being protected by the church.