Sydney, Australia, Sep 29 (efe-epa).- The Vatican’s former number three, Australian cardinal George Pell, was to travel to Rome Tuesday for the first time since he was acquitted in April of child sexual abuse charges, Australian media reported.
The 79-year-old cardinal was acquitted by Australia’s highest court in April when he won an appeal against his December 2018 sentence to six years in prison for five counts of sexual abuse of two minors that occurred in the 1990s.
Pell was appointed to his role as Vatican treasurer in 2014 and took a leave of absence to fly to Australia in 2017. His position expired during his time in prison, according to The Catholic Weekly.
The cardinal, who has lived in the Archdiocese of Sydney since he was released after 13 months in Barwon prison outside Melbourne, was succeeded in 2019 as treasurer by the Spanish Jesuit Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, who is trying to bring order to the Vatican’s accounts.
The cardinal’s trip is in response to an invitation from the Vatican and possibly comes from Pope Francis, the Weekly reported on Monday.
The reason and duration of Pell’s visit to the Vatican are unknown, but if the pope did invite him, it is likely that discussions will focus on the Vatican’s financial situation and related corruption, and Pell’s financial reform program, which he took on during his term, according to the Weekly.
Pell’s return to Rome comes less than a week after Italian Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 72, suddenly resigned as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and renounced his rights as cardinal.
At a press conference in Rome, Becciu, who was a close aide to the pope and previously held number two position in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, said he was being forced out over embezzlement accusations, which he denied.
In statement to the Catholic News Agency, Pell praised the pope, saying: “The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments.”
“I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria,” Pell said. EFE-EPA