One of Pope Francis’ Favorite Cardinals to Stand Trials For Sex Abuse

No, that’s not a typo.  A Catholic cardinal has been ordered to stand for not one but two trials on charges that he sexually abused minors in the 1970’s and the 1990’s.

Cardinal George Pell has been charged in Australia with multiple crimes for allegedly sexual molesting multiple victims at a swimming pool in the 1970s in the town of Ballarat, near Melbourne, when he was a priest; and at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s when he was the Archbishop of Melbourne.

The cardinal’s lawyers argued successfully for separate trials because the allegations are different enough to justify two separate trials.

Cardinal Pell was serving as the Vatican’s Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy before going on a leave of absence for face these criminal charges.  As the Vatican’s top finance minister and Pope Francis’ handpicked choice to fix Vatican finances, the Pope and the Vatican are closely watching Pell’s criminal mess.

However, the serious nature of the charges does not necessarily mean Pell will be found guilty.  As the NY Times notes:

The slow-moving case — charges were filed in June [of 2017] — has been a test of both Australia’s justice system and the Vatican’s efforts to hold clerics accountable after decades of abuse scandals. It is occurring in a country where defamation law favors plaintiffs, where criminal law protects defendants more than it does in many other countries, and where a number of legal standards restrict reporters’ ability to publish information related to criminal cases.

An Australian judge has already dismissed many of the charges against Pell and no date has been set for the trials.

The stakes for survivors of sexual abuse and for Pell are extraordinarily high.  This is the first time a Vatican cardinal has been forced to stand trial on sexual abuse charges. No matter the outcome, Pell may lose his Vatican position. “The great likelihood is that he’s never going back to Rome, at least as head of the Secretariat,” said John Allen, editor at Crux and a long-time reporter and author on Catholicism and the Vatican.



Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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