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Vatican Cardinal to face child sexual abuse charges in Australia

Vatican Cardinal to face child sexual abuse charges in Australiaā€¯

It is convened on 26 July before the court of Melbourne for a preliminary hearing.

Australia announced the charges against Pell late last month. He has taken a leave of absence for the trial, but says he plans on returning to his powerful post in the Vatican.

Cardinal George Pell landed in Sydney on Monday morning.

Cardinal George Pell arrives in Sydney on Monday morning.

Last week, it was reported that several Australian Catholics had set-up a fund to pay for the cardinal's legal fees after the Diocese of Sydney said that it would only pay for his accommodation and living costs.

"When he was told of the charges by Victoria Police Cardinal Pell said in Rome he totally rejected the allegations, was completely innocent of the charges and would return to Australia to vigorously defend himself and clear his name", said the statement.

"Tell her that I am", he replied.

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Australia's Channel 9 broadcast footage of the 76-year-old on a stop-off in Asia as he makes his way to Melbourne to appear in court.

Given that history, some people found it surprising that Pell was given a powerful role at the Vatican.

The cardinal serves as the Pope's financial adviser and is the most influential cleric to have been charged in relation to the Catholic Church abuse scandal.

Until recently, Pell was accused of mishandling assault cases, not of carrying out assaults himself.

Cardinal Pell had been heard three times in this frame and had recognized before the commission of inquiry to have "failed" in its handling of pedophile priests in the State of Victoria in the 1970s.

The announcement of his indictment at the end of June coincided with the end of a long national survey on the institutional responses made in Australia for the sexual abuse of children, eventually requested by the government in 2012 after a decade of lobbying by victims.

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