Vatican finance chief investigated for child abuse
July 28, 2016
Vatican finance chief George Pell is being investigated in relation to child abuse allegations. Police in his home country of Australia have been looking into allegations against the cardinal for more than a year.
The allegations, dating from the 1970s to the 1990s, were detailed on Wednesday in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report which included interviews with alleged victims.
"That's a matter that we investigated and still are investigating," Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told Melbourne radio station 3AW. The allegations included groping at a swimming pool in Ballarat where Pell, now Australia's most senior Catholic cleric, had grown up and worked.
Ashton added that investigators were waiting to hear back from the prosecutor's office and that detectives could be sent to the Vatican to interview Pell.
Allegations strongly denied
In a statement issued by his office on Wednesday, the 75-year-old had categorically rejected all the allegations in the ABC program and accused the broadcaster of a "scandalous smear campaign" against him.
"While the Cardinal in no way wishes to cause any harm to those making allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against him, the simple fact is that they are wrong," the statement said, adding that he would continue to cooperate with any investigation.
Other high-ranking Australian clergymen have stood by Pell, with the archbishops of Sydney and Melbourne saying he deserved the presumption of innocence.
Pope says Christians owe gays an apology
"Trial by media benefits no one," Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said.