Vatican’s No. 3 Official Ordered to Stand Trial on Sex-Abuse Charges

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s No. 3 official and a top adviser to Pope Francis, has been ordered to stand trial on sexual-abuse charges in his home country of Australia. The ruling caps a two-month pretrial hearing in which Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, sought to convince a judge the allegations were part of a larger effort to punish the Vatican for failing to stop sexual abuse worldwide. Australian Magistrate Belinda Wallington apparently was not swayed, ruling that there is sufficient evidence for a trial by jury. Several of the most serious allegations were dismissed, however. Pell, the Vatican’s former head of the Secretariat for the Economy, has been accused of sexually abusing multiple people decades ago, though details of the allegations are scarce. He is the highest-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church to face sexual-abuse charges, as Francis vows to enforce a “zero-tolerance” policy. Pell has entered a not-guilty plea and has been ordered to surrender his passport.