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Pope aide Pell 'strenuously' denies child sex abuse

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Sydney (AFP)

Vatican finance chief George Pell "strenuously" denies all allegations of historic child sex offences and will return home to clear his name, Catholic officials said Thursday.

Police charged Australia's most senior Catholic with the offences, citing multiple complainants, and summoned the cleric to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18.

"Although it is still in the early hours of the morning in Rome, Cardinal George Pell has been informed of the decision and action of Victoria Police," the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said in a statement.

"He has again strenuously denied all allegations."

The Archdiocese said the 76-year-old would return to Australia "as soon as possible to clear his name", after receiving advice and approval from his doctors.

"He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously," the statement added.

Victoria Police did not provide further details of the charges, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the judicial process.

Pell was interviewed in Rome by Australian police last October over the allegations, and has previously strongly denied them.

He had been accused of historic sex abuse claims when he was the Archbishop of Sydney in 2002, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

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