SEX SCANDAL: Pope's aide arrives Australia to face charges

Cardinal Pell was previously archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney after having been a parish priest in his hometown of Ballarat Victoria.

Fairfax Media / Nick Moir Cardinal George Pell leaving the airport escorted by police. "News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name", Pell said at his news conference in Rome last month. Pell has since returned to Australia to face the charges, which he denies.

His court appearance will make him become the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.

Pell, 76, landed in Sydney on Monday, The Associated Press reports.

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

The commission has faulted Cardinal Pell's handling of abuse accusations against clergy members when he led the archdiocese of Melbourne, beginning in 1996, and later of Sydney. In one hearing, he admitted that he "mucked up" in dealing with paedophile priests in Victoria state in the 1970s.

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 trousers, and was pictured seated with another man at the Haagen-Daz shop.

The tourist who was shooting the video is later heard telling Pell that his mother wanted to know if he was innocent.

Thomas Doyle, a former Catholic priest and a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, told NPR last week that before these allegations, Pell had already been criticized for his treatment of victims of clerical sex abuse.

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

"I've told you no comment, thank you very much", he said.

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