Australian cardinal’s departure to fight longstanding allegations are doubly troubling for the Catholic church due to his closeness to Pope Francis

It has been decades since the systematic sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests first became known. But it was not until this week that the scandal finally reached the highest corridors of the Vatican.

On Thursday, Cardinal George Pell, the third most senior official in Roman Catholic church, was charged with historical sexual abuse and announced he would temporarily step down while he returned to his native Australia to face the charges.

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