World News – AU – Pope meets with George Pell for the first time since the cardinal’s acquittal for abuse


Pope Francis met George Pell in his first audience with the cardinal since Pell was cleared of child sexual abuse charges in Australia this year

Pell, a former Vatican economy minister, returned to Rome at the end of September, days after a senior Italian cardinal with whom he had long-standing differences was asked to resign over allegations of embezzlement funds

The audience with the pontiff on Monday morning was expected and the Vatican did not give further details Pell told reporters afterwards that the meeting went « very well »

« Although the Pope seems to have made the mistake of listening to other senior Vatican officials opposed to financial reform, he has always loved Cardinal Pell and admired his honesty, » said Edward Pentin, correspondent for Rome from the National Catholic Register (NCR)

« His meeting with Pell today, amid a wave of recent allegations of financial corruption at the Vatican, will be greeted as a clear testament to Francis’ support for Pell’s efforts as well as Pell’s full justification himself »

The cardinal at the center of the embezzlement allegations is Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who was Pell’s deputy in the Ministry of the Economy The two men clashed frequently over the Vatican’s financial overhaul until that Pell leaves Rome for Australia in 2017 to face child sexual abuse charges

The Vatican has not revealed any details of the charges against Becciu, but reports in the Italian press last month said he had allegedly siphoned off funds to help his siblings Becciu denied any wrongdoing, telling the press he found the allegations against him « surreal »

The Italian press then claimed that Becciu was suspected of paying bribes to an Australian witness in the Pell sexual abuse case in an attempt to influence the outcome, which resulted in prompted Pell’s attorney to request an investigation into these allegations Becciu has denied the allegations

Becciu was involved in a controversial deal in which the secretariat used church money to buy a luxury building in London as an investment Becciu defended the investment, claiming it was compliant to standard practice and that he had not lost any money in the Vatican

In 2014, when Pell was appointed to oversee Vatican finances, he admitted that “hundreds of millions of euros” had been discovered “hidden” and off the city-state’s balance sheet

Robert Mickens, Rome-based editor of the English-language edition of the Catholic daily La Croix, said the Pope might want to know Pell’s opinion on the allegations against Becciu

« If he feels misled by Becciu and people say that Becciu undermined everything Pell wanted to do, maybe the Pope will want to get a fuller picture of what it was, » said Mickens « But it is difficult to say where the Pope is now because we do not know the real reasons for Becciu’s dismissal »Either way, » Mickens said, « the meeting adds ‘fuel to the fire’

Pell was charged with multiple sexual offenses in June 2017 A Melbourne jury found him guilty of five counts in December 2018 after a previous jury failed to reach a verdict. Victoria appeal upheld the convictions last year, but Australia’s high court overturned the convictions in April

Pope Francis, Vatican City, George Pell, Holy See, Swiss Guard, Coronavirus

World News – AU – Pope meets George Pell for the first time since acquittal of cardinal abuse



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