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The Pope's top financial adviser is taking a leave of absence after facing charges for multiple sex offenses


The Vatican is in big trouble.

Pope Francis' top financial adviser Cardinal George Pell was charged with multiple sex crimes Thursday, making him the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged with abuse.

Cardinal Pell, 76, faces "multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offenses" from multiple complainants, according to police in Victoria, Australia. Pell was a country priest in the country during the 1970s.

Pell, who's the Vatican's treasury minister, told reporters he had been granted leave of absence to face the allegations. And he vehemently denied the charges.

"I am looking forward to finally having my day in court," Pell said. "I repeat that I am innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

There are no details about the allegations, but Pell is scheduled to present himself before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18.

Pell had previously faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse while he was archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney.

In the past, Pope Francis promised a "zero tolerance" policy when it came to sexual abuse. A spokesperson for the Vatican said Thursday that the Pope appreciated Cardinal Pell's honesty and wa grateful for the aide's "energy and dedication" in carrying out Vatican reforms.

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