Cardinal on his way to face sex charges in Australia

Australian Cardinal George Pell has been charged with historical sex offences but has declared his innocence.
Australian Cardinal George Pell has been charged with historical sex offences but has declared his innocence.

MELBOURNE • A top Vatican official charged in his native Australia with historical sex crimes is on his way home, where he is due in court, reported Australia's Channel 9, as it broadcast video of the adviser to Pope Francis on a stop-off in Singapore.

Australian police charged Cardinal George Pell late last month, making the Vatican economy minister the highest-ranking church official to face such accusations. He has declared his innocence and said he would return to Australia to clear his name.

Channel 9 broadcast video taken by a tourist of Cardinal Pell in casual attire with a companion outside an ice cream shop in Singapore. The tourist told the cardinal that his mother wanted to know if Australia's most senior Catholic was innocent. "Tell her that I am," said the cardinal.

Channel 9 published the video on its Facebook page late last Saturday and said it had been taken earlier in the day.

Cardinal Pell is on leave of absence to defend himself, and the video marks the first time he has been seen in public outside Rome since he was charged.

He is due to appear in a Melbourne court on July 26.

His Australian lawyer could not be reached by telephone, and did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Cardinal on his way to face sex charges in Australia'. Print Edition | Subscribe