Top Vatican cardinal says pope backs him on stance over abuse issue



Australian Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Vatican official to testify on systemic sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, said on Monday that he has the full backing of Pope Francis.

Pell on Sunday told Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse that the church made “enormous mistakes” and “catastrophic” choices by attempting to cover up abuses in the 1970s.

Pell’s testimony has received global coverage. Because of his high position in the Vatican, the Australian inquiry into sexual abuse cases that occurred decades ago has taken on wider implications about the accountability of church leaders.

Pell, 74, has become the focal point for victims’ frustration over what they say has been an inadequate response from church leaders. Pell himself is not accused of sexual abuse and has twice apologized for the Church’s slow response.

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