Pope aide George Pell charged with child sex abuse
Australian police say top Vatican cardinal charged with multiple counts of 'historical sexual offences'.
Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis' chief financial adviser and Australia's most senior Catholic, is the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.
Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said on Thursday police have summoned Pell to appear in an Australian court to face multiple charges of "historic sexual offences", meaning offences that generally occurred some time ago.
Patton said the 76-year-old was charged on summons and was required to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18 for a hearing.
Patton would not take any questions, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the judicial process.
The Catholic Church in Australia said Pell "strenuously denies" the multiple sexual assault offences.
"Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors who will also advise on his travel arrangements," the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said in a statement.
"He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously."