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Top Vatican aide denies new abuse claims

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Top Vatican aide denies new abuse claims
Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell speaking to media last year. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
09:01 CEST+02:00
Vatican finance chief George Pell accused sections of the Australian media of interfering in the course of justice on Monday as he denied new child sex abuse allegations.

Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic cleric, was interviewed in Rome by Australian police last October over historical sex assault claims against him. No charges have yet been laid.

It coincided with the final stages of a long-running national inquiry into institutional responses to child sex abuse. Pell has appeared before the royal commission three times, once in person and twice via video-link.

During his evidence, he admitted he "mucked up" in dealing with paedophile priests in Victoria state in the 1970s.

A book by investigative journalist Louise Milligan, "Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell", now includes fresh details on allegations against him, and new information claiming a cover-up within the Catholic Church.

The Rome-based Pell, who has previously denied all the accusations and suggested there was a conspiracy against him, hit out at the book's publisher and other media for detailing the claims.

"It seems that Melbourne University Publishing and some media organizations ... are interfering with the course of justice," a statement from his Rome office said.

"Cardinal Pell will not seek to interfere in the course of justice by responding to the allegations made by MUP and media outlets today, other than to restate that any allegations of child abuse made against him are completely false.

"He repeats his vehement and consistent denials of any and all such accusations, and stands by all the evidence he has given to the Royal Commission."

The statement added that Pell had received no update from the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions or Victoria Police on the status of their investigations into him, which have been underway since February last year.

Pell was ordained in Rome in 1966 before returning to Australia in 1971 and rising to become the nation's top Catholic official.

He left for the Vatican in 2014 after being hand-picked by Pope Francis to make the church's finances more transparent, although his powers have since been reined in.

READ ALSO: Vatican admits there is 'still much to do' to stop paedophile priests

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