Pope meets Cardinal Pell for first time since he was jailed - and then acquitted - for sex abuse
Pope Francis received Cardinal George Pell at the Apostolic Palace - Shutterstock
Pope Francis welcomed Cardinal George Pell back to the group on Monday, specifically referring to the year the Australian had spent in prison for his sexual abuse conviction, which was ultimately overturned.
Cardinal Pell received an audience with the Pope in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican.
The Holy See did not disclose what the two men were discussing, but did release a short video of their encounter, indicating that the Pope was interested in promoting Cardinal Pell's rehabilitation.
Pope Francis greeted the Australian and said "Thank you for your testimony" in an obvious reference to the Melbourne trial in which Pell was alleged to have molested two choirboys.
The Pope then heard "more than a year" - a reference to the 13 months Pell had spent in prison before his sexual abuse conviction was overturned by the Australian High Court in April.
It was the first meeting between the two since the cardinal's sexual abuse conviction was overturned on appeal.
After almost three years of absence, he returned to Rome late last month.
Though he believed he had molested the choirboys, a report published in Australia in May found that he was aware of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergymen as early as the 1970s and was unable to dismiss or remove priests.
Cardinal Pell is still facing a civil lawsuit from the father of a choirboy who died in 2014.
When he left Rome in 2017 to face the charges in Australia, Pell had been assigned to clean up the Vatican's finances as Minister of the Economy.
His return comes amid a financial scandal in which the Pope last month forced the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom he accused of misappropriating Vatican charity funds.
The cardinal, who was one of the most powerful figures in the Vatican hierarchy, has denied any wrongdoing.
He was involved in a controversial € 324 million real estate deal - the purchase by the Vatican of a former Harrods dealership on Sloane Avenue in Chelsea to be converted into luxury apartments.
Millions of euros have been paid to middlemen who brokered the deal and the Pope has ordered an investigation.
Cardinal Becciu, forced to resign, clashed with Cardinal Pell over reform of the Vatican's finances - AFP
Cardinal Becciu clashed with Cardinal Pell because he tried to make the Vatican's often opaque finances more accountable and transparent.
Neither the Pope nor Cardinal Pell (79) wore face masks during their meeting.
Francis, who is 83 years old and lost part of a lung to illness in his youth, has been criticized for repeatedly failing to wear masks at large gatherings in St. Peter's Square and other official events.
The Vatican announced on Monday that four soldiers from the Swiss Guard, the Pope's personal protection force, were infected with the corona virus.
"There are currently four Swiss guardsmen in isolation with symptoms," said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
There are around 110 officers and men in the Swiss Guard. You served the papacy for five centuries and first came to Rome in 1506 to protect Pope Julius II. Members of the tiny corps must be Swiss, Catholics, single, and under 30 years of age.
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