Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell, would face a court hearing in Australia in 2018, a Magistrate said on Friday.
Pell is to answer what the police described as “historical sexual offences’’; he is the most Senior Roman Catholic Official to face such accusations.
Pell, 76, a top adviser to Pope Francis, did not speak as he was escorted to and from Melbourne Magistrates’ Court by police through a group of media, protesters and supporters.
He was not required to enter a plea.
Australian police said in June Pell had been summoned to appear on charges of “historical sexual offences’’ from multiple complainants.
Details of the charges have not been made public.
Pell’s lawyers have said at a previous hearing that he would plead not guilty to all charges.
He is not required to enter a formal plea until a magistrate determines whether there is cause for a full trial.
At a 20-minute hearing a magistrate said the matter should return on March 5 for a committal hearing to determine whether it should proceed to a full trial.
The magistrate set aside four weeks for the committal hearing.
Pell is on a leave of absence from his Vatican role as Francis’ economy minister, which he started in 2014.
The pontiff has said he would not comment on the case until it is over.