Cardinal George Pell arrives at Australian court

Cardinal George Pell arrives at Australian court

Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the nation's highest form of inquiry, revealed previous year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

In open hearings, the court heard that accusations against Cardinal Pell included alleged incidents at a cathedral, a cinema and a swimming pool.

The exact details and nature of the allegations have not been made public, other than they involve "multiple complainants".

It seems that the other shoe is on its way to hitting the vestibule floor, as the ruling magistrate has deemed there is enough evidence for Cardinal George Pell to face three charges of historic sex abuse.

A statement issued by Pell's lawyers and distributed by the Sydney Archdiocese, his last employer before his Vatican posting in 2014, said Pell had fully cooperated with police investigating the allegations "and always and steadfastly maintained his innocence".

"He would like to thank all of those who have supported him from both here in Australia and overseas during this exacting time and is grateful for their continued support and prayers".

The decision came after a dramatic four-week committal hearing in March in which the Cardinal's lead barrister, Robert Richter, said the accusers were lying and had a vendetta against Dr Pell.

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Pell has been a key point of reference in English-speaking Catholicism for at least the last two decades, and he was appointed by Pope Francis to his "C9" council of cardinal advisers from around the world in 2013. He sat quietly behind his lawyer, wearing a black suit with a clergyman's collar, as the magistrate's decision was read out over 90 minutes.

The pontiff has said he will not comment on the case until it is over.

Pell arrived by vehicle in front of the downtown court where more than 40 uniformed police officers were waiting to maintain order as media jostled to videotape and photograph him.

"Although, it is worth mentioning that magistrate Belinda Wallington has ruled out numerous charges, and according to The Guardian: "...that many of the more serious allegations have been thrown out".

He said Pell's accusers were motivated by a desire to punish the Catholic Church.

Pell was called back from Rome to his home country previous year to face the charges.

Pell's lawyers told the court in February that the first complainant approached police in 2015, 40 years after the alleged crimes, in response to media reports about the royal commission.

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