Sydney, July 10 (IANS) Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s financial chief, has returned to Australia as he prepares to defend himself against paedophilia charges, the media reported on Monday.
The 76-year-old Australian cleric, a top adviser to Pope Francis, arrived at the Sydney Airport earlier on Monday from the Vatican via Singapore, reports the BBC.
Police have said the accusations relate to alleged “historical” incidents.
Cardinal Pell, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing, is due to face a Melbourne court on July 26.
He was granted a leave of absence from the Vatican to fight the charges.
The Victoria state police charged him on June 29. He is suspected to have sexually abused children when he served as a priest in the city of Ballarat (1976-80) and as Archbishop of Melbourne (1996-2001).
Pell is considered the third-ranking official in the Holy See, reports the BBC.
In October 2016, Pell was questioned in Rome by Australian police officers about the accusations of sexual assault committed between 1976 and 2001.