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Cardinal Pell Granted Leave By Pope To Fight Charges

Cardinal George Pell says he will return to Australia to defend himself against historical sexual assault offences.

Addressing media in Rome, a representative for Pell said in a statement that he has been granted leave by Pope Francis to fight the charges.

"I've kept Pope Francis, the Holy Father, regularly informed during these long months," the statement read.

"I have spoken to him on a number of occasions in the last week.

"We talked about my need to take leave to clear my name.

"I'm grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia."

Earlier on Thursday, Pell had been served by Victoria Police on his legal representatives.

He said he was “looking forward” to “finally” having his day in court.

"I'm innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

He has been ordered to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on July 18.

- with ABC

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