Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric and a key figure in the Vatican under Pope Francis, is being investigated by police over child sex abuse allegations, a media report said on Wednesday.
It said that a special police task force had been looking into the allegations for nearly a year but has now referred the case to the Office of Public Prosecutions for advice.
According to the report, Pell strongly denied the allegations when asked about it.
Report says Cardinal Pell is the man chosen by the pope to lead financial reform efforts.
“As the head of the Secretariat of the Economy, he is the Vatican’s de-facto economy minister.
“The Cardinal does not wish to cause any distress to any victim of abuse.
“However, claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong,’’ the report said.
Pell accused media, especially, ABC broadcaster of a “scandalous smear campaign” against him.
Meanwhile, the ABC broadcaster said that police and prosecutors can decide whether the allegations warrant charges being filed against the cardinal.
The allegations went back to the 1970s, when Pell was a priest in the northern Victorian town of Ballarat.
Two men claimed on the programme that they had been molested in a swimming pool by Pell in the 1970s when they were young boys.
Also, another man alleged that he had seen Pell expose himself to young boys in a beach changing room in the 1980s.
However, the men said they had made statements to police. (dpa/NAN)