SYDNEY – Australian Cardinal George Pell, in charge of Vatican finances, was questioned last week in Rome by Australian police over charges of alleged sexual abuse between 1976-2001, the media reported on Wednesday.
The cardinal “voluntarily participated in an interview,” said a spokesperson for Victoria police, who added investigations were still underway and did not provide more details, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
The police of the state of Victoria in southern Australia announced in August the possibility of filing charges against Pell for sexual abuses allegedly committed in the city of Ballarat between 1976-1980, and in Melbourne between 1996-2001.
Two men have accused Pell, 75, of touching their genitals in the 1970s, while a third says Pell had stood naked in front of young boys.
“The Cardinal repeats his previous rejection of all and every allegation of sexual abuse and will continue to co-operate with Victoria Police until the investigation is finalized,” read a statement from Pell’s office in the Vatican, confirming the interview with three police officers from Victoria.
It is, however, not the first time Pell has been accused of sexual abuse.
In 2002, when he was the Archbishop of Sydney, a man accused Pell of abusing him in 1961, when he was 12 years old and Pell was training to be a priest.
Investigations exonerated Pell, who in February testified through a videoconference before an Australian Government Commission investigating sexual abuse suffered by children in public, religious and social institutions and organizations.
Pell had acknowledged then the cover-ups of pedophilia cases in the heart of the Australian Catholic Church and admitted that he should have done much more to stop the abuse.
“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,” an earlier statement from the office of Pell had asserted.