Australia to try Vatican Cardinal for child sex abuse

George Pell won't stand trial on most serious sex charges: Reports

Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the nation's highest form of inquiry, revealed previous year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

When allegations of historic sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell first came to light in 2016 the Pope stressed that "we must avoid a media verdict based on gossip".

The decision to commit Pell to trial on some of the offences he had been charged with was handed down by magistrate Belinda Wallington in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Tuesday morning.

Robert Richter QC argued to have all charges thrown out, submitting the allegations against Cardinal Pell are "impossible" the product of "fantasy, mental health problems or pure invention".

The court was closed to the public and media while the accusers gave evidence, as is standard practice in Victoria in sexual assault cases.

Cardinal Pell, the Vatican treasurer, is Australia's most senior Catholic and one of the most powerful officials in the Vatican.

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Moreover, legal observers in Australia say that most criminal indictments in the country survive the committal hearing stage. Richter also suggested that Pell had been targeted due to perceived failures to respond adequately to abuse allegations against other clergy, both as a priest and as the archbishop of both Melbourne and Sydney.

He said the alleged incidents, in his home town of Ballarat, west of Melbourne, in the 1970s and at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in the 1990s could not have happened.

She struck several of the other decades-old charges, while others were dropped. "The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me".

Wallington said there were inconsistencies in the complainant's evidence and that there was insufficient weight for Pell to stand trial before a judge and jury on those charges.

If Cardinal Pell is committed to stand trial, he'll face a directions hearing in the County Court at a later time and a date will be set for trial. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat. Pell went on to become the Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.

Pell appeared before it three times, once in person and twice via video-link from Rome over the Church's handling of complaints against paedophile priests. The Sydney Archdiocese had no immediate comment on Tuesday.

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