Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Cardinal Pell has court appearance Wednesday | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cardinal Pell's barrister says the cleric would plead not guilty if he was committed to stand trial Cardinal Pell's barrister says the cleric would plead not guilty if he was committed to stand trial
Glenn Montgomery | 01 May, 2018, 12:43

Cardinal George Pell departs the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne today.

Cardinal Pell formally pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday.

Pell, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and clerical collar, showed no emotion as the judge read the charges against him, often staring down at the floor.

When allegations of historical sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell first came to light in 2016 the Pope stressed that "we must avoid a media verdict based on gossip". According to the Commission, the Catholic Church received complaints from 4,500 people between 1980 and 2015 for alleged child abuses committed by around 1,880 members of the institution, especially priests, and some cases dated back to the 1920s. "I find [his] evidence as a whole is not of sufficient weight for a jury to convict", she said.

It said the leave of absence that Pope Francis had granted Pell, head of the Vatican's economy ministry, past year so he could defend himself "is still in place".

Australia's Catholic leaders have spoken out in support of him, describing Pell as a "thoroughly decent man".

A group of charges related to alleged offences that occurred against two complainants between July 1996 and December 1997.

Unable to talk about evidence before the court, Milligan told nine.com.au that a long, hard road lies ahead for accusers of Pell.

Cardinal George Pell has been ordered to appear Wednesday in the Victoria state County Court where he will eventually stand trial.

Ms Wallington remarked that issues of credibility and reliability were issues for a jury "except when you get to a point when credibility is annihilated".

Archbishop Hart expressed his confidence in the judicial system in Australia and said that justice must now take its course.

The Cardinal's legal team said he had "always and steadfastly maintained his innocence" and would continue to do so at trial.

Pell was appointed to the Vatican for a five-year term in 2014, where he has filled the role of treasurer (Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy). The first days of the committal hearing, which began on 5 March, were closed to the media and the public while complainants gave evidence - a standard procedure for cases involving sexual offence allegations.

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