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Millennium Post

Vatican's shame and scandal

Vaticans shame and scandal
That even the most senior Catholic priests have had charges of sexual misconduct being brought against them can be borne out by the fact that Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will stand trial on multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. Being the treasurer in Vatican is the same as being the Finance Minister elsewhere. He is the most senior figure in the Catholic Church to face criminal charges for alleged assault. Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington delivered her decision after a month-long committal hearing in March that heard evidence from a large number of witnesses. The Pope, who had to apologise on behalf of another senior priest during one of his recent trips, advised Pell to go to Australia and face the trial. If anything, this is getting scandalous for the Vatican and millions of the faithful. Magistrate Wallington found that there was enough evidence to commit Pell, one of the country's most senior Catholic figures, to trial on multiple counts. When asked to enter a plea, the cardinal said in a loud, clear voice,"not guilty." Tuesday's decision to send Pell's case to trial will be a shock to an already embattled Catholic Church, which has been fighting allegations of abuse among its clergy for decades. Thousands of cases brought to light around the world have led to investigations and convictions in countries including the United States, Canada, Ireland and Australia. The charges relate to claims of historical sexual abuse spanning three decades and include events that allegedly took place at a swimming pool in rural Victoria in the 1970s and at St Patrick's Cathedral during Pell's time as Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s. In a statement released on Tuesday, Pell's legal team said its client "steadfastly maintained his innocence." The Australian cardinal was charged last June and given leave by Pope Francis from the Vatican to contest the charges in his native country. After the announcement of the charges was made in June 2017, he said that the idea of sexual abuse was "abhorrent" to him. "It is in the hands of the justice system and one cannot judge before the justice system," he said. Pell's rapid rise was a source of pride for many Catholic Australians, as he quickly rose from a rural parish priest to occupy one of the highest offices of the Vatican. In 1996, thirty years after he was first ordained as a priest, Pell was made archbishop of Melbourne by Pope John Paul II. Less than a decade later, Pell was appointed as archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and then made a cardinal in 2003. Significantly, in a statement last Friday, the Archbishop of Melbourne declared that he had confidence in the judicial system of Australia. "Justice must now take its course," he said.
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