Cardinal Pell to face trial over abuse claims

What happened?

Cardinal George Pell, appointed by Pope Francis to reform Vatican finances, will return to Australia to face charges of historic sex abuse. At a press conference at the Vatican, the cardinal said he was innocent and had faced “relentless character assassination”. Pope Francis has granted him a leave of absence, a Vatican spokesman said.

Police in Australia’s Victoria state said there were “multiple charges” and “multiple complainants” but gave no further details.

What the media are saying

Much coverage focused on what the story meant for Pope Francis. The New York Times said it was “bad news for a pontificate that has mostly bathed in global adoration”. It suggested that Francis had a “blind spot when it comes to sex abuse in his ranks” and quoted abuse survivor Marie Collins, who said Cardinal Pell should have resigned long ago because of his mishandling of abuse cases while a bishop. (Cardinal Pell told a royal commission that he “should have done more” about rumours of abuse but that he thought authorities were dealing with them.)

Angela Shanahan, writing in The Australian, said the media frenzy against the cardinal meant he could “never receive a fair trial”. She quoted Amanda Vanstone, a former senator, who described his critics as “no better than a lynch mob from the dark ages”.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection