Catholic Church rallies behind Pell after sex charges

Times Live (South Africa)


Australia’s Catholic leaders have spoken out in support of Cardinal George Pell describing the Vatican finance chief as a “thoroughly decent man” after he was charged with historical sexual offences.

Pell, who has been ordered to face a Melbourne court hearing next month, said Thursday he would return to Australia “as soon as possible to clear his name” after consulting with his doctors.

The pre-eminent cleric rose through the ranks to the highest offices of the church in Australia before leaving to manage the Vatican’s powerful economic ministry.

The Australian’s successors spoke warmly of his legacy and reputation.

“The George Pell I know is a man of integrity in his dealings with others, a man of faith and high ideals, a thoroughly decent man,” the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said in a statement.

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But Fisher said that while his archdiocese would help Pell with accommodation on his return to Australia to face the charges, “it is not responsible for the Cardinal’s legal bills arising from these matters”.

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