Pope Francis ‘doubts’ sexual abuse case against Cardinal George Pell

ABC News (Australia)

Pope Francis says there are “doubts” over the case being made against Vatican finance chief George Pell, Australia’s most senior Roman Catholic, for alleged child abuse.

“There are doubts. ‘In dubio pro reo’,” he said, using a Latin expression meaning that a defendant may not be convicted by the court when doubts about his or her guilt remain.

“We must avoid a media verdict, a verdict based on gossip,” he told journalists aboard the papal plane during the return trip from Poland, where he had headlined a Catholic youth festival.

The ABC’s 7.30 program aired the details of the sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Pell last week.

Victoria Police has confirmed it has been investigating a number of complaints for more than a year, but has not sought to interview the Cardinal, who currently serves as the Vatican’s treasurer, reporting directly to the Pope.

Cardinal Pell has vehemently denied the allegations, accusing the ABC of mounting a smear campaign against him and saying the broadcaster had “no licence to destroy the reputation of innocent people”.

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