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.
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.