SYDNEY (Reuters) – A top Vatican official charged in his native Australia with historical sex crimes arrived in Sydney yesterday ahead of his first court appearance later this month.
Australia’s Nine Entertainment broadcast video of Cardinal George Pell being whisked away from Sydney airport early yesterday morning.
Australian police said late last month Mr Pell, an adviser to Pope Francis, faced multiple charges of “historical sexual offences” from multiple complainants.
That makes the Vatican economy minister the highest-ranking Church official to face such accusations.
Mr Pell has declared his innocence and said he would return to Australia to clear his name.
The Sydney Catholic archdiocese said yesterday Mr Pell’s return “should not be a surprise” because he had already said he would return to defend himself against the charges.
It said in a statement Mr Pell “consulted his doctors and on their advice took several days to return home, breaking his journey in a number of places to avoid long-haul flights”.
Mr Pell had said he was too sick to fly home to testify at a government inquiry into child abuse in 2016.