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Cardinal George Pell set to return to Rome after acquittal on child sex abuse charges

Posted September 29, 2020 7:14 a.m. EDT

— Cardinal George Pell is due to return to Rome Wednesday, a source close to him told CNN Tuesday, marking his first return since his acquittal nearly six months ago on child sex abuse charges and release from prison in his native Australia.

The source said there was no official reason for his return beyond that he had always said he wanted to come back to Rome. The source did not know how long Pell planned to stay in Rome.

The Vatican would not say whether he will meet with Pope Francis.

Pell served at the Vatican from 2014 to 2019 as Minister of Economy, in charge of Pope Francis' financial reforms which largely stalled when he was called back to Australia to defend his name.

In 2018, Pell became the most senior Catholic official to be convicted of child sex abuse. He served 13 months in prison before Australia's High Court acquitted him in April of charges involving two choir boys in the late 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne.

Vatican experts say it is unlikely that Pell will return to his previous position given that next year he turns 80 years old.

His return comes just days after one of Pell's main opponents in Vatican financial reform, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, suddenly resigned.

Pell still maintains an apartment in the Vatican. In an April interview with Australian columnist Andrew Bolt, Pell said he would return to Rome eventually to collect his belongings but that he intended to live in Sydney.

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