By Aaron Kesel
The Vatican is being rocked by scandals; two high-ranking members of the congregation have been arrested for lewd crimes including one alleged to have sexually assaulted children.
The Pope’s chief financial adviser, Cardinal George Pell, and another unknown top priest have been arrested. Pell stands accused of possession of child pornography and the unknown priest is accused of hosting a drug fueled sex orgy party.
Last month, Pell, one of Australia’s most senior Catholics, was charged with multiple counts of “historical” sexual assault offenses according to police, the Independent reported.
“Pell will appear in an Australian court to face multiple charges of historical sexual assault offences,” Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said.
Pell is the highest ranking official to ever be charged in the church’s long-running sexual abuse scandals.
He has also previously faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney. Now he is under the microscope for his own alleged abuse.
The allegations may stem from two men, now in their 40s who allege Pell inappropriately touched them at a pool party in the late 1970s, The Telegraph reported.
“It’s been very difficult for them to stick their neck out,” Ingrid Irwin told Melbourne’s Herald Sun. “To come out against someone who is second to God, in some people’s minds, has caused all sorts of problems for them.”
Pell “strenuously denied all allegations” and “is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously,” according to a press statement by The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.
“I’m innocent of these charges. They are false,” Pell said at a press conference. “The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me . . . These matters have been under investigation now for two years,” Pell said.
“There have been leaks to the media. There’s been relentless character assassination – a relentless character assassination. And for more than a month, claims that a decision on whether to lay charges was imminent . . . I’m looking forward finally to having my day in court,” he said.
“All along, I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations,” Pell added. “News of these charges strengthens my resolve … and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return here, back to Rome, to work.”
Pell, the third highest-ranking cardinal, is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 18 July 2017 for a court hearing.
Vatican police also raided a drug-fueled gay sex party at a top priest’s apartment last month, according to Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano.
The apartment was raided after neighbors complained of unusual behavior among frequent nighttime visitors.
The Italian newspaper quoted police as stating that they found drugs and a group of men engaged in sexual activity when they entered the apartment.
The priest serves as secretary to cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, Pope Francis’ own personal adviser.
Ironically, the apartment belongs to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the department which is tasked with ridding sexual abuse within the church.
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