“Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences,” Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton told the media in Melbourne on Thursday.
The extent of the charges the senior Vatican cardinal is facing has not been revealed by police. However, according to Patton, “there are multiple complainants relating to those charges.”
There might be up to 10 alleged victims, Australian news website News.com.au reports, adding that they were minors at the time of the alleged assaults and are now aged from their late 20s to their early 50s.
The allegations are believed to stretch from the time that Pell was a priest in the Australian town of Ballarat to when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. It is alleged that the cardinal groomed boys at a swimming pool in Ballarat in the 1970s and committed sexual assaults at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, according to The Australian.
The cardinal, who did not admit to any of the alleged offences and has denied reports that have been circulating in the media for months, was charged by summons to appear before a Melbourne court on July 18.
Since 2014, Pell has lived in the Vatican, with which Australia has no extradition treaty, meaning the cardinal could potentially avoid prosecution if he chose not to return to his home country.
However, the Australian Catholic Church said in a statement Thursday that the cardinal “will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name.”
“He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously,” the statement added.
Pell, 76, was promoted to cardinal in 2003 and three years ago he was appointed to serve as the Vatican treasurer, considered to be the third most powerful post behind the Pope.
While it is the first time that formal charges are brought against the clergyman, he was subject of an investigation in the early 2000s after claims emerged that he had molested an altar boy back in the 1960s, The Age reported.
At the time, Pell denied the allegations against him, dubbing them “lies.”
In February, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released a report stating that more than 4,000 children, mostly boys, have been allegedly sexually abused by Catholic priests in Australia over a period of decades.
According to the investigation, since the 1950s some 7 percent of priests in the country were alleged perpetrators. The commission also said that since the 1980s, the Catholic Church has paid over $200 million to victims of alleged sex abuse committed by priests in Australia over decades.
Soros ‘mafia state’ speech a declaration of war – Hungarian PM Orban
“He [Orban] sought to frame his policies as a personal conflict between the two of us and has made me the target of his unrelenting propaganda campaign,” the Hungarian-born American financier said during his keynote address at the annual economic forum of the European Commission Thursday.
The speech was Soros’ first public comment in response to a controversial bill proposed in April which threatens to close his Central European University.
“[Orban] cast himself in the role of the defender of Hungarian sovereignty and me as a shady currency speculator who uses his money to flood Europe — particularly his native Hungary — with illegal immigrants as part of some vague but nefarious plot,” he added.
Orban did not take such accusations lightly, however, and fired back at Soros Friday.
‘Like being accused of murder while victim is alive’: Orban fights accusations over Soros univers…
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called allegations he wants to close a university funded by US billionaire George Soros unfounded, as the EU opened a legal case against Hungary over a…
“This is a declaration of war, no doubt,” Orban told state radio Friday, as cited by Reuters. “The only network which operates in mafia ways, which is not transparent… in Hungary is the Soros network.”
“This is why we must insist, and I personally insist on having a parliament decision on making these organizations transparent,” Orban added.
Soros founded the Central European University (CEU) in 1991 as an independent American academic institution in Hungary. However, the bill introduced by the Hungarian parliament in April would force the university’s closure as it does not have a physical campus in the United States. The move was seen by some as an attempt to limit free speech and liberal values in the country.
During his speech, Soros praised the tens of thousands of people who marched in protests across Hungary in April while decrying “the deception and corruption of the mafia state the Orban regime has established.”
The European Commission began ‘legal action’ against the Hungarian government in April and the European Parliament voted to introduce penalties against the Hungarian government for a breach of EU values. With all sides refusing to stand down, discussion reached a dead end.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo broke the legal deadlock last week, however, when he said in a statement that New York, where the CEU is registered, would be open to negotiations on the matter, with the Hungarian government reciprocating by opening a dialogue with the European Commission.
Soros also railed against Poland’s ruling party for its similar treatment of NGOs while describing the EU as “cumbersome, slow-moving” and in need of a “radical” reinvention.
“This is difficult to achieve when two countries, Poland and Hungary, are conspiring to oppose it,” Soros said. “It will require resolute action by European institutions and the active engagement of civil society.”
“Democracy cannot be imposed from the outside; it needs to be asserted and defended by the people themselves,” he added.
George Soros and Viktor Orbán go to war in Budapest (Op-Edge) https://on.rt.com/88bq
George Soros and Viktor Orbán go to war in Budapest — RT Op-Edge
Hungary’s pressure on George Soros’ Budapest university is about more than the future of one school. It’s part of an ideological battle which will dominate European and North American discourse in…
In his annual state of the nation address in February, Orban pushed back against foreign-funded institutions operating in Hungary and throughout the European Union.
“Here there are large predators swimming in the water, and this is the transnational empire of George Soros,” Orban said, adding that Soros-funded organizations “are working to bring hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe.”
In 2015, Orban described Soros as “the strongest example of those who support anything that weakens nation states, they support everything that changes the traditional European lifestyle,” in an interview on public radio Kossuth.
“These activists who support immigrants inadvertently become part of this international human-smuggling network.”
The Hungarian parliament is expected to pass the controversial bill later this month despite widespread condemnation from activists and politicians and a resolution passed in the European Parliament which condemned the “serious deterioration” in the rule of law and human rights in Hungary.