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Pope's top financial adviser jeered as he faces sex charges

By Staff Reporter

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic official to face sex offence charges, was jeered by protesters as he made a court appearance in his native Australia.

The 76-year old is the country's top-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis' top financial adviser.

He entered the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday flanked by police and media as a small group of placard-waving protesters yelled from the pavement.

The 20-minute hearing focused on planning for the committal hearing starting on March 5 that will determine if he goes to trial.

As many as 50 witnesses could be called for that hearing.

Pell, who remained silent throughout, has been charged with multiple offences involving multiple complainants.

The exact detail and nature of the charges have not been disclosed to the public, though police have described them as "historical" sexual assault offences.

Pell has taken leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to return to Australia and defend himself.

He has not been required to enter a plea in court, though his attorney said at his first court appearance in July that Pell intended to plead not guilty.

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