Cardinal George Pell to face child sex abuse charges

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief, has repeatedly denied the allegations that date back to his time as a Ballarat priest and Melbourne archbishop.

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Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton says a summons has been served on Dr Pell’s legal representatives in Melbourne.

Deputy Commissioner Patton stressed that Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else would be in an investigation of this nature.

“Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect to historical sexual offences and there are multiple complainants relating to those charges. During the course of the investigation in relation to Cardinal Pell there has been a lot of reporting in the media and a lot of speculation of the process that has been involved in this investigation and also the charging. So for clarity I want to be perfectly clear: the process and the procedures that have been followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offences whenever we investigate them.”

He says Cardinal Pell was charged on summons due to advice that was received and sought from the Office of Public Prosecutions but that the final decision to charge Cardinal Pell was made by Victoria Police.

Deputy Commissioner Patton says Cardinal Pell has a right to due process.

“It is important to note that none of the allegations that have been made against Cardinal Pell have obviously been tested in any court yet. Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore it is important that the process is allowed to run its natural course. Preserving the integrity of that process is essential to us all and so for Victoria Police, it is important that it is allowed to go through unhindered and allowed to see natural justice is afforded to all the parties involved, including Cardinal Pell and the complainants in this matter.”

Cardinal Pell has repeatedly denied the allegations that date back to his time as a Ballarat priest and Melbourne archbishop.

The allegations were repeated in a book published in May, which Cardinal Pell’s office in Rome labelled “an exercise in character assassination”.

Melbourne University Press has confirmed it is removing author Louise Milligan’s book from sale after Victoria Police charged Cardinal Pell.

In July last year, Cardinal Pell denied sex-abuse allegations made against him, adding he would cooperate with any civil action against him.

“I deny them absolutely. I’ve got no intention of adding to the discomfort or the harm of the people who made the allegations, but they’re not true. I’m like any other Australian: I’m entitled to a fair go. Untested allegations should be put through the proper procedures. I’m quite prepared to cooperate with appropriate civil … uh, appropriate procedures. I won’t cooperate with trial by the media. I think it’s unjust and inappropriate. Thank you very much.”

It is so far unclear what the charges are against Cardinal Pell and his lawyers have applied to have the details of the charges suppressed.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney says Cardinal Pell strenuously denies all allegations and will return to Australia as soon as possible to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors, who will also advise him on his travel arrangements.

He says he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously.

Victoria Police say Cardinal Pell will appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18 for a filing hearing.

 

 

 

 

US announces plan to sell arms to Taiwan

The United States plans to sell Taiwan $US1.

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42 billion ($A1.85 billion) in arms, the first such sale under the administration of Donald Trump and a move sure to anger China, whose help the president has been seeking to rein in North Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has told reporters the administration had told Congress of the seven proposed sales on Thursday.

“It’s now valued about $1.42 billion,” she said.

The State Department said the package included technical support for early warning radar, high Speed anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and missile components.

Nauert said the sales showed US “support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability,” but there was no change to the United States’ long-standing “one China” policy.

The sale, which requires congressional approval, would be the first to Taiwan under Trump and the first since a $US1.83 billion sale that former President Barack Obama announced in December 2015, to China’s dismay.

The previous package included two Navy frigates in addition to anti-tank missiles and amphibious attack vehicles.

US officials said in March the administration was crafting a big arms sale to Taiwan, but such talk died down as Trump sought to persuade Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, an increasing threat to the United States.

Earlier on Thursday, China responded angrily and said it had protested to Washington after a US Senate committee approved a bill calling for the resumption of port visits to Taiwan by the US Navy for the first time since the United States adopted a one-China policy in 1979.

Meet Australia’s 16 year old CEO

School holidays are usually a time for students to relax or catch up on studies.

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But for Ali Kitinas she also has a business to run.

“It can be a little bit of a challenge at times to find the right balance, but I think that, really, happens with anything. My work hours are kind of in the evening, and so, often, I get really excited about something and I want to keep working but I know that I have to wake up for school the next day. And I also want to make sure I have some quality of life as well, and that I do get to be a teenager.”

The 16-year-old Sydney girl makes and sells body-scrub powder with the help of two humanitarian groups.

One raises money to rehabilitate women in Rwanda and child soldiers, while the other funds medical services for a group of children in India.

Ms Kitinas says she decided to start her business after visiting the Indian city of Kolkata.

“A lot of these girls were my age that needed the services of the hospital. I had already been making coffee scrubs and body scrubs as gifts for people, and I saw that as a great collaboration, where I could be making body scrubs that are sustainable and using recycled coffee grinds and then have a bigger purpose.”

Ms Kitinas’s entrepreneurial skills recently led to her participating in an international mentoring program alongside the founder of the Virgin empire, Richard Branson.

Upon returning home, she became the youngest person to ever participate in the annual CEO Sleepout.

Under the initiative by the charity group Saint Vincent de Paul, some of the country’s most successful business leaders sleep on the streets to raise awareness about homelessness.

It is an issue close to Ali Kitinas’s heart — particularly after discovering her mother Lynne lived on the streets when she was a teenager.

“Sleeping in a cardboard box, staying over at friends, sleeping in church halls … It was cold. It was scary. There was a lot of violence. There were a lot of incidents where kids were taken advantage of. They are human beings, they have an identity, and, the longer that you’re in the despair situation, the harder it is to get out of that.”

Saint Vincent de Paul’s New South Wales chief executive, Jack de Groot, says more than 105,000 Australians sleep in such situations every night.

He says more than 2-and-a-half million are living below the poverty line.

A major factor, he says, is a lack of action by state governments to address Australia’s ongoing housing-affordability crisis.

“People still can spend in excess of five, and sometimes 10, years on the public-housing waitlists. So, we have a real crisis. The Commonwealth can put funding arrangements forward to the states, but we know, in different states, there is not enough public, social or affordable housing being made available.”

So far, Ali Kitinas and her fellow chief executives have raised more than $5 million for Saint Vincent de Paul this year, giving some short-term relief to those less fortunate.

 

 

 

Cardinal Pell vows to fight historical sexual assault charges

Cardinal George Pell has vowed to return to Australia to fight historical sexual assault allegations, saying: “I’m innocent of these charges – they are false”.

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Speaking from the Vatican after Victoria Police announced Cardinal Pell would be summonsed on multiple charges, Australia’s most senior Catholic said he was the victim of a “relentless character assassination”.

He revealed he has been granted a leave of absence by Pope Francis from his duties within the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy to return to Australia in an attempt to clear his name.

“These matters have been under investigation now for two years. There have been leaks to the media. There’s been relentless character assassination,” Cardinal Pell said.

“For more than a month (there have been) claims that a decision about whether to lay charges was imminent. I’m looking forward to having my day in court. I’m innocent of these charges – they are false.

“The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me. I’ve kept Pope Francis – the Holy Father – regularly informed during these long months and I have spoken to him on a number of occasions in the last week, most recently a day or so ago.

“We talked about the need to take leave and clear my name. I am very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia. I’ve spoken to my lawyers about when this will be necessary and I’ve spoken to my doctors about the best way to achieve this.

“All along I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations. News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work.”

Earlier Victoria Police confirmed Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges for historical sexual assault offences. The charges relate to multiple claims and multiple complainants.

In a statement the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said Cardinal Pell “strenuously denied all allegations”.

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‘Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else’

The charges were served on Cardinal Pell’s legal representatives in Melbourne and lodged at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton stressed that none of the allegations had been tested in court yet. Cardinal Pell is due to face a Melbourne court on July 18.

“Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore, it is important that the process is allowed to run its natural course.”

Commissioner Patton said Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as any other defendant in the process.

“During the course of the investigation in relation to Cardinal Pell, there has been a lot of reporting in the media and speculation about the process that has been involved in the investigation and also the charging.

“I want to be perfectly clear, the process and procedures that are being followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offences whenever we investigate them.”

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No extradition treaty with the Vatican

Cardinal Pell is currently at the Vatican overseeing its finances within the Secretariat for the Economy.

Australia does not have an extradition treaty with the Vatican, potentially complicating matters.

It is so far unclear just which allegations Cardinal Pell has been charged with.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Patton did not detail the abuse allegations at his press conference earlier on Thursday.

“I am not in a position to provide further details on the charges,” he said, adding that Victoria Police would not be providing further comment.

Church abuse victims welcome court case

Victims’ rights group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said the outcome of the Victoria Police investigation is an important development.

“SNAP, the Survivors Network, wants to thank the Victoria Police, who took the time to listen to those who came forward with allegations,” the group said in a statement.

The group said it looked forward to seeing Pope Francis’ response as the head of the Catholic Church.

The Blue Knot Foundation, which represents Australian adults who experienced childhood trauma, said the charges against Cardinal Pell were a powerful message to victims of abuse.

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“It upholds that no one is above the law, no matter how high their office, qualifications, or standing,” spokeswoman Dr Pam Stavropoulos said.

“As well as the impacts of the abuse itself, countless survivors of child sexual abuse have struggled with the silence and disbelief of society that adults and respected public figures can be perpetrators of the criminal act of sexual abuse of children.

“The charging of George Pell is an enormously important step for community awareness which has been hard fought for and which cannot now be lost.”

Victorian Minister: We can’t pre-judge any individual case

Victorian government minister Martin Foley said Cardinal George Pell deserves the presumption of innocence.

“We know that the Catholic Church in particular has a sorry record and needs to overcome this,” he said.

“We can’t pre-judge any individual case. We need to make sure that anyone facing charges is given the presumption of innocence.”

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has said Cardinal Pell, who has co-operated with multiple police, parliamentary and royal commission investigations, is the victim of relentless character attacks.

Last year, three members of Victoria Police travelled to Rome and interviewed Cardinal Pell regarding allegations of sexual assault.

Abbott told to ‘stop rewriting history’

Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s coalition colleagues are urging him to stop trying to rewrite history and be a team player after he sparked another outbreak of internal coalition infighting.

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International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells reprimanded Mr Abbott after he released an alternative election manifesto and criticised the Turnbull government’s submarines program.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells – once considered an ally of Mr Abbott’s – seized on his claim earlier in June that the Paris Climate Agreement targets he devised as prime minister were “aspirational”.

“The renewable energy target came in under Tony, Paris was signed under Tony, he gave these commitments,” she told ABC Radio on Friday.

“To actually now say it was an aspiration when clearly his words, the documentation and everything clearly demonstrate it was an iron-clad commitment. You can’t rewrite history.”

As a backbencher, Mr Abbott was entitled to air his opinions, but as a former prime minister he carried a certain responsibility.

“If now he says that he was wrong when he was prime minister, well that’s a matter for him, but he had the opportunity to do a lot of things,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

“But I would urge Tony not to try and rewrite history, because all it’s doing is damaging his credibility.”

Defence Minister Marise Payne, a moderate and Turnbull backer, also took a swipe at Mr Abbott, insisting there was no “I” in “team”.

“You’re either on it or you’re off it,” she told ABC radio.

“We all need to be on it to make sure Australia is governed by the coalition.”

Senator Payne rebuked Mr Abbott’s call for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, insisting he had never raised the matter with her.

“We want to ensure that we have sovereign capability over this extraordinarily important strategic military capability,” she said.

“To lease that, or to trade that out to another entity as has been suggested, I think would be very, very deleterious to our own sovereign capability.”