Supporters of Cardinal George Pell have reportedly set up a fund to help him fight historical sexual abuse charges.
Details of the fund emerged after Victoria Police charged the Vatican's 76-year-old finance chief on summons last week.
News Corp Australia reports that a bank account has been set up for donations to help Cardinal Pell when he returns to Melbourne from Rome to fight the charges. John Roskam, the head of the Institute of Public Affairs conservative think-tank, said he had been given bank account details for people wanting to assist Cardinal Pell with his legal bills.
Australia's most senior Catholic insists he is innocent. Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has said that the Sydney archdiocese will assist with Pell's accommodation when he returns to Australia but will not pay his legal bills. A filing hearing will be held in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26.
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Pope Francis has sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases. The Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis has caught up with Francis, threatening to tarnish his legacy over a series of questionable appointments, decisions and oversights in his four-year papacy. Francis declined to renew the mandate of German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that processes and evaluates all cases of priests accused of raping or molesting minors. Francis named Mueller's deputy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit, to run the office instead.
During Mueller's term, the congregation amassed a 2000-case backlog and came under criticism from Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, who had advised the church on caring for abuse victims and protecting children from pedophile priests.
In May, Francis said her criticism of the slow pace in processing abuse cases was justified and announced he was adding more staff to handle the overload.
- AAP, AP