Pope says will withhold judgement on Cardinal Pell over sex abuse

Channel News Asia

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE: Pope Francis said on Sunday that he will wait until Australian justice takes its course before taking a position on Cardinal George Pell, who is under investigation in his homeland over sexual abuse allegations.

But the pope, speaking to reporters aboard the plane returning to Rome form Poland, said Pell, now the Vatican’s powerful economy minister, should not undergo a trial by the media or by rumour.

Victoria state Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said on a Melbourne radio station programme on Thursday that Victoria police had been investigating allegations against Pell for more than a year.

“It’s in the hands of the justice system and one cannot judge before the justice system,” the pope said in answer to a question.

“Justice has to take its course …and justice by the media or justice by rumour does not help. After the justice system speaks, I will speak,” he said.

He said Pell had a right to the benefit of the doubt like all those accused.

Victims groups have called on the pope to sack Pell, the highest-ranking Vatican official to be accused of sexual abuse, or for him to resign.

Pell is seen as a test case for the pope because he has vowed zero tolerance for sexual abuse in the Church has said he would sack bishops found guilty of committing abuse or covering it up.

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