Tags

No tags :(

images

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s highest ranking Catholic, has returned to Australia after being charged with historical sex offences.

The 76-year-old landed at Sydney Airport at 5.55am on Monday after flying in from the Vatican via Singapore.

The Australian Federal Police, NSW Police and private security contractors were waiting to escort Cardinal Pell from Sydney Airport.

Cardinal Pell left the airport through a separate exit to other passengers, and got into one of two waiting white cars. He did not answer any questions.

His return comes less than two weeks after Victoria Police confirmed he had been charged on summons in relation to multiple historical sexual abuse allegations.

He is due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26 for a filing hearing.

Cardinal Pell says he is innocent, and is looking forward to fighting the charges in court.

A passenger on the flight from Singapore said Cardinal Pell was met by two police officers when he disembarked in Sydney.

“They were there when he got off the plane,” the passenger, who asked not to be named, said.

“One was uniformed and one was in plain clothes.

“They let him go through passport control and baggage collection [alone] and then met him again after that.”

Cardinal Pell was travelling in business class and appeared “calm and not stressed” during the seven-hour flight, the passenger said.

“He read the paper. He didn’t sleep as far as I know, but then, I did.”

After he was charged, Cardinal Pell promptly vowed to return to Australia to defend himself vigorously against the charges and said he was looking forward to his day in court.

“Cardinal George Pell has been informed of the decision and action of Victoria Police,” a statement from the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney read at the time.

“Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors who will also advise on his travel arrangements.

“He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously.”

On Sunday, images emerged of a casual Cardinal Pell at an ice-cream shop in Singapore’s main tourist strip Orchard Road.

Cardinal Pell, who is usually dressed in the customary black robes of his rank, appeared to blend in with other tourists in a casual blue shirt and khaki pants, and was pictured seated with another man at the Haagen-Daz shop.

A male passerby spoke to Cardinal Pell, saying he had spoken to his mother who wanted to know whether Cardinal Pell was innocent.

“Tell her that I am,” Cardinal Pell responded.

Cardinal Pell was also stopped outside his Singapore hotel by Channel Seven and was asked whether he continued to deny the allegations.

Cardinal Pell declined to comment.

“I’ve told you no comment, thank you very much,” he said.