For the first time authorities are beginning to take sexual misconduct charges filed against Roman Catholic officials serious as the police in Melbourne Australia have charged Cardinal George Pell with historical sexual abuse. The Cardinal has various sexual misconduct charges hanging over his head from his time as the head of the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney. The cardinal who is one of the top advisers has denied the allegation completely and has said he would defend the case in court.
Officials of the Roman Catholic Church have been for a long time been a subject of sexual misconduct for a long time but law enforcement agencies have been sceptical about bring charges against members of the church. This moves marks a change in that mentality as the Melbourne police department charged the cardinal with the serious charges.
Deputy Commission of Police of the Australian state of Victoria, Shane Patton in announcing the charges said the cardinal has to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18. The police chief also said that the cardinal is facing charges arising from multiple complaints filed in the past by different people.
In response to the charges, an official statement read that the cardinal who is in Rome would return to Australia where he would defend the charges against him. The statement also read that the cardinal denies the charges against him and would have his day in court.
A recently released book titled Cardinal: “The Rise and Fall of George Pell” details sexual assault charges levied against the Cardinal by two choirboys during his time as archbishop of Melbourne from 1996-200. The author of the book Louise Milligan, who is a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, explained that one of the choirboys came forward after the death of the other choir boy.
The news of the charges seems to be good news for people who have showed discontent for the amount of protection enjoyed by Vatican officials. Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, who is an expert on the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse, has called on the Vatican to suspend the cardinal pending the decision of the court. The charges might have a ripple effect in other countries where Vatican officials have been let off the hook in the past.