The Vatican has approved a leave of absence for Cardinal George Pell to go and fight charges against him. Pell is charged with sexual offences in Australia.
Pell, the Vatican Treasure and considered third highest ranking member of the Catholic Church has denied the charges against him.
He vehemently denied the charges adding that Pope Francis had approved a leave of absence for him to go to Australia to clear his name.
Pell says he has been a victim of character assassination since the last two years when investigation into the allegations began.
Police in the state of Victoria said that charges against him relate to sexual offences allegedly committed many years ago.
Deputy Commissioner of Police in Victoria, Shane Patton said that the allegations were made by more than one person.
He added that the decision to charge the Cardinal was following the advice from the prosecutors.
“Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants,” Deputy Commissioner Patton said.
The police however did not give details of the allegations.
He told a news conference at the Holy See: “I’m looking forward finally to having my day in court.
“I am innocent of these charges, they are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”
In recent times, the Catholic Church has suffered several blows from allegations of sexual abuses, paedophilia and homosexuality with many accusing the church of covering up such Acts.
In Nigeria, a well known Catholic Priest was accused of abusing a minor and was charged to court. Critics then said that nothing would be heard of the case again.
Cardinal Pell has been a strong supporter of traditional Catholic values, taking a conservative stance on same-sex marriage and contraception, and advocating priestly celibacy.
But his career has been dogged first by claims that he covered up child sexual abuse by priests, and then later that he was himself an abuser. He has always strongly denied any wrongdoing.
In 2014, Cardinal Pell was summoned to Rome to become chief of the Vatican’s finances, a new position created by Pope Francis in the wake of scandals at the Vatican Bank.
But he left behind growing anger over revelations of child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Australia.
Cardinal Pell repeatedly faced allegations from abuse victims of a cover-up and his critics accused him of appearing aloof and arrogant.
He was accused of moving one notorious paedophile priest – Gerald Ridsdale – around parishes rather than reporting him, and of attempting to bribe one of the victims to keep quiet.
He denied any wrongdoing but said he could have done more to investigate claims of abuse.
In 2016 the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) aired allegations by two men who claimed Cardinal Pell had touched them inappropriately in the 1970s.
He strongly denied the allegations, describing them as a “scandalous smear campaign”.