"I look forward to having my day in court", he told the media as he announced he was standing aside. Patton said there were multiple complainants, but refused to provide further details about them, including their ages.
Pell, who is now based in the Vatican, is the third highest-ranked Catholic in the world and the most senior figure in the church to be charged over sexual abuse issues which have plagued the institution. The cleric, who served as archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney, said he had been too quick to believe priests rather than victims.
It was harder to tell if the rest of the sermon had any relevance to the latest scandal facing the church, as the green-robed priest moved between stories of him unsuccessfully riding a bike in Southbank and a recent visit to the dentist. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.
The charging of Cardinal Pell is big news in Italy, and the pro-Vatican Roman newspaper Avvenire put it on the front page, noting Cardinal Pell had maintained his innocence.
"I want to acknowledge the difficulties experienced by those representing or working in the Church and those closely connected through our parishes, schools and agencies", he said. "The Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia against Card". Few, however, have faced criminal charges.
After reciting the Creed and taking an oath of fidelity to Pope Francis and his successors, each cardinal - in his new red robes - went up to Pope Francis and knelt before him. Francis also appointed the cardinal, who has a reputation as a theological conservative, to a nine-member advisory council group. Muller, a 69-year-old was appointed by fellow German Pope Benedict XVI.
Francis has a mixed record on dealing with abuse, according to survivors and their advocates.
Vivian Waller, a lawyer who has represented abuse victims, said that her firm had been approached by a small number of people who had made allegations involving Pell. Once the justice system speaks, the pope said, I will speak.
Pope fires sex abuse cases chiefPope Francis has axed the Vatican's sex abuse cases chief days after releasing George Pell to face charges. Francis, who visited Sweden previous year, is keen to further Catholic dialogue with Protestant churches. "There has been relentless character assassination, relentless character assassination". But in dealing with the fallout from Cardinal Pell's case, he will need to hew to the firm side. "It is so raw in Ballarat", he said.
He noted that Pell has cooperated with Australia's Royal Commission investigation into sex abuse and that as a bishop in Australia, worked to protect children and compensate victims.
"I think his legacy is under severe threat", said Peter Saunders, a victim of clergy abuse who took a leave of absence from the papal advisory commission on abuse a year ago in protest over a lack of progress.
But it's unclear if Pell, whose shadow has now fallen on a Vatican sensitive to ongoing accusations of scandal and abuse, will be able to return to his job. And to make matters worse, Francis was later caught on videotape labeling parishioners who opposed that appointment as leftist and stupid.
ALLEN: That's correct. It should be said that during his final years, when he was the archbishop of Sydney, there was a great deal of controversy that made it - in the eyes of some, anyway - a bit of a surprise that newly-elected Pope Francis brought him to Rome to be his financial-cleanup man - to head his new Secretariat for the Economy.