By Robert Mickens
July 3, 2017
Cardinal George Pell’s time at the Vatican is over.
You can bet the Holy See’s huge financial and real estate assets that, de facto, he is finished as Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, the office that monitors those vast resources.
Pope Francis granted Pell an extended “leave” from his Vatican post this past Wednesday so the cardinal could return to his native Australia and face “multiple charges in respect of historic sexual abuse.”
The cardinal must appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26 when it is expected that the exact nature of the abuse charges will be made public.
Accusations against the cardinal have circulated for many years but they have never stuck. Pell has always insisted on his innocence and this past week vowed to clear his name in what he’s called a “relentless character assassination.” Evidently, he’s hired Melbourne barrister Robert Richter, known as a “standout celebrity criminal advocate,” to defend him.
This will likely require a long and drawn-out courtroom battle that will last at least a year or more. And that’s far too long for a major Vatican office to be left without its head.