Card. Pell professes his innocence at preliminary hearing in pedophilia trial
Today, the trial began with an administrative hearing. Although he was not required to be present, the Cardinal came to court.
Melbourne (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Card. George Pell has reaffirmed his complete innocence of all allegations of sexual abuse against him. He did so through his lawyer at an "administrative" hearing that opens the trail against him today. " Cardinal Pell will plead not guilty to all charges, and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has," his barrister Robert Richter, QC, told the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.
The cardinal, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, and Pope Francis's close collaborator in reforming the curia and Vatican bank, has for years been at the center of a media campaign accusing him of having covered up the abuse of minors by some Australian priests and of having made inappropriate advances of a sexual nature in the 1970s, when he was a priest. Such accusations appeared only a few years ago.
The encounter lasted less than 10 minutes. Although he was not required to attend the session the cardinal wanted to attend to be present. The cardinal returned to Australia, having been granted "leave" by Pope Francis last month. At a press conference he held on June 29, he said he was awaiting the judicial trial to give him "clear my name and return to my job in Rome."
During the press conference he said: "I am innocent of these allegations, they are false. The very idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."
The cardinal came to the court together with his lawyer and escorted by a group of policemen and a host of photographers and cameramen. There were also groups of protest asking for "the truth" and groups of supporters for the cardinals. Card. Pell did not make any statements.
Many Australian Catholic leaders have publicly defended the cardinal, describing it as "a thoroughly decent man."