Cardinal to face Australian court

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis is set to appear in an Australian court today in a hearing to test whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try him.

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month, with testimony of alleged victims likely to be suppressed from publication.

Pope Francis’ former finance minister was charged in June of last year with sexually abusing multiple people in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as “historical” sexual assault offenses — meaning the crimes are alleged to have occurred decades ago.