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Cardinal Pell: "I am innocent of these charges, they are false"

(ONLY VIDEO) Cardinal Pell held a press conference without taking questions this morning in the Vatican.  

He said that Pope Francis has placed him on leave while facing charges in Australia.  

He added that he has kept Pope Francis informed of proceedings against him on abuse charges, and that the pope has given him time off to work on defense.  

While the case is underway, the cardinal will not participate in any public liturgical ceremony.  

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke has said the "the Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia against Card.George Pell for decades-old actions that have been attributed to him," and that "having become aware of the charges, Card. Pell, acting in full respect for civil laws, has decided to return to his country to face the charges against him, recognizing the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly, and to foster the search for truth."

"The Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell" honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration, and in particular, for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9)," he added.  

"The Holy See expresses its respect for the Australian justice system that will have to decide the merits of the questions raised. At the same time, it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors; has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities (for example, in his depositions before the Royal Commission); has supported the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse," said Greg Burke.