George Pell Returns To Australia To Face Historical Sex Abuse Charges

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Hours after Cardinal Pell's arrival on Monday, an Australian commission released documents from its continuing investigation into Catholic institutions' handling of sexual abuse allegations in Australia in recent decades.

The cardinal, Australia's most senior Catholic prelate and Vatican financial tsar, flew from the Vatican, stopping over in Singapore, to Sydney Airport, landing Monday morning at 5.55 am.

Victoria police said the accusations arose from multiple complainants, and Cardinal Pell was granted a leave of absence from the Vatican to fight the charges in his home country.

Pell, unofficially considered the number three in the Vatican hierarchy, said from Rome after being charged late last month that he was "looking forward finally to having my day in court".

The Australia-born Pell is due to appear in a Melbourne court on July 26 to face the charges, which he has continued to insist he is innocent of. "They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me", he said at the time.

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Pell has declared his innocence and said he would return to Australia to clear his name.

Anthony Fisher, the archbishop of Sydney, has said that the church will not pay for Cardinal Pell's legal defense, though he said it would assist with his "accommodation and support".

It was his first appearance outside of Rome since police laid the charges.

Australia's Channel 9 broadcast footage of the 76-year-old on a stop-off in Asia as he makes his way to Melbourne to appear in court.

The lawyer presiding over this work, Gail Furness, had announced in February that 4.444 facts of paedophilia had been reported to the authorities of the Church in australia and that between 1950 and 2010, "7% of priests were accused" of sexual abuse of children. In one hearing, he admitted that he "mucked up" in dealing with paedophile priests in Victoria state in the 1970s.

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