Monday, March 5, 2018

Australia: Pope faces credibility threat as cardinal goes before court in Melbourne on sex abuse charges


The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as “historical” sexual assault offenses

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | AU Desk
Source/Credit: The Japan Times
By Associated Press | March 5, 2018

The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis is set to appear in an Australian court on Monday in a hearing to test whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try him.

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month, with testimony of alleged victims likely to be suppressed from publication.

Pope Francis’ former finance minister was charged in June with sexually abusing multiple people in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as “historical” sexual assault offenses — meaning the crimes are alleged to have occurred decades ago.

The case places both the cardinal and the pope in potentially perilous territory. For Pell, the charges are a threat to his freedom, his reputation and his career. For Francis, they are a threat to his credibility, given that he famously promised a “zero tolerance” policy for sex abuse in the church. Advocates for abuse victims have long railed against Francis’ decision to appoint Pell to the high-ranking position in the first place.

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