Cardinal Pell Living at Sydney Seminary Ahead of Historic Sex Abuse Hearing
January 10, 2018
An Australian seminary where Cardinal George Pell is living while he fights charges of historic sexual abuse says the top Vatican figure is “very much looking forward” to the start of a key court hearing, where dozens of witnesses will give evidence.
It had been unclear where Pell, the most senior cardinal in the history of the Catholic Church to face criminal charges, had been living since he was given a leave of absence from his role at the Holy See and returned to his native Australia.
The spokesman for the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, Sydney confirmed to CNN the 76-year-old Cardinal was residing at the seminary, where 40 young trainee priests live and study as they prepare for their careers in parishes across the country.
“Cardinal Pell is now very much looking forward to the March hearing and his day in court,” a spokesman for the seminary said. “He has repeatedly said he is innocent of all allegations made against him.”s
In less than two months the Cardinal will face a four-week long committal hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court where evidence will be heard from 50 witnesses.
At least two weeks of the hearing, which begins March 5, will be in closed court when complainants give evidence via video link. Once the hearing is completed, the magistrate will then decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial at a higher court.
At a news conference at the Vatican in June last year, Pell said he had been the victim of “relentless character assassination.”
“I’m innocent of these charges, they are false,” Pell said. “The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”