WelCom November 2020
Pope Francis received Cardinal George Pell in an audience on Monday October 12, 2020 and in greeting him also thanked him for his witness. The 79-year-old Australian cardinal, prefect emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, holding the position from 2014 to 2019, returned to Rome in September this year.
He had left the Vatican in July 2017 to face charges in Australia regarding the sexual abuse of minors. Pope Francis granted him a period of leave to be able to defend himself against the accusations that he molested two choirboys in the 1990s.
Pell was convicted in December 2018 of sexually abusing the choirboys when he was the archbishop of Melbourne. He strenuously denied the charges and the High Court in Australia overturned his conviction in April this year after hearing his second appeal. The former Vatican treasurer had in the meantime spent more than a year in prison.
A report released in May this year after a top-level Australian inquiry said Pell was aware of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Australia as far back as the 1970s and failed to seek the removal of accused priests.
Cardinal Pell returned to Rome on September 30, for the first time since being jailed and then acquitted on the charges.
Pope Francis, a fierce defender of the presumption of innocence, held a private audience with Pell, the Vatican said.
While a reunion between Pope Francis and Cardinal Pell had been expected, it was not clear that Pell is to be entrusted with a new Vatican role.
Senior officials said Pell had not been summoned back by Pope Francis but had returned on his own volition.
Source: Vatican News