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First Look Cardinal leaves Vatican to face sexual abuse charges in Australia

Cardinal Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to face charges of sexual assault, adding to the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal and complicating Pope Francis's efforts toward reform amid 'zero tolerance' for sex crimes against children.

Gregorio Borgia/AP

Cardinal George Pell, a top adviser to Pope Francis, took a leave of absence as the Vatican's financial chief Thursday to fight criminal charges in his native Australia that alleged he committed sexual assault years ago.