Justice must take its course for Pell: Fisher

UPDATE:  Ballarat’s Cardinal George Pell is being subjected to relentless character attacks instead of being regarded as innocent until proven guilty of abuse allegations, Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher says.

Victorian police are deciding whether to charge Australia's most senior Catholic after receiving final advice from the state's Director of Public Prosecutions about historical sexual assault allegations.

Archbishop Fisher said the decision rests with police and until then "we must wait and see".

"Justice must be left to run its course," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Everyone supports just investigation of complaints but the relentless character attacks on Cardinal Pell, by some, stand the principle of innocent-until-proven- guilty on its head.

"Australians have a right to expect better from their legal systems and the media.

"Even churchmen have a right to 'a fair go'."

Cardinal Pell, a former Ballarat priest and Melbourne archbishop, has not commented on the latest development but has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual abuse against him.

He has criticised the publication of a book airing allegations while they were still being considered by the Office of Public Prosecutions and police, and before any findings by the child abuse royal commission into his handling of and knowledge of abuse complaints.

"Each and every allegation of abuse and cover-up against him is false," said a statement issued on Monday by Cardinal Pell's office in Rome.

"The book is an exercise in character assassination."

Archbishop Fisher said it was unfortunate that in the very week the OPP delivered its advice on the investigation that the media and authors published and repeated allegations, some of which he said had already been thoroughly answered.

"This cannot assist the impartial pursuit of justice," he said.

"What is clear, however, is that Cardinal Pell has co-operated in every way with multiple police, parliamentary and royal commission investigations."

Police on Tuesday said detectives from Taskforce Sano will now take time to consider the advice from the DPP about the historical sexual assault allegations.

"As with any investigation it will be a decision for Victoria Police as to whether charges are laid," a police statement said.

Cardinal Pell voluntarily participated in an interview with Victorian police officers in Rome last October over alleged sexual assaults in Ballarat between 1976 and 1980 and in East Melbourne between 1996 and 2001.

Cardinal George Pell Photo: AP.

Cardinal George Pell Photo: AP.

EARLIER

Victoria Police has received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions about its investigation into Cardinal George Pell, days after fresh details of historic sex abuse allegations were aired.

Detectives from the Sano taskforce, the squad set up to investigate historic child abuse allegations, will now consider the DPP's advice, police spokeswoman Creina O'Grady said on Tuesday night.

"Victoria Police can confirm that it has received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to a current investigation into historical sexual assault allegations," she said.

"As with any investigation it will be a decision for Victoria Police as to whether charges are laid. As this remains an ongoing investigation, we will not be commenting further at this time."

Police would not comment on any recommendations contained in the brief.

Cardinal Pell, Australia's highest ranking Catholic official, was interviewed by three members of Victoria Police in Rome last October. The 75-year-old took part voluntarily.

Cardinal Pell has always vehemently denied sex abuse allegations made against him.

Cardinal George Pell talks to the press after giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in March 2016. Photo: Getty Images.

Cardinal George Pell talks to the press after giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in March 2016. Photo: Getty Images.

A brief of evidence against Cardinal Pell was returned to the Office of Public Prosecutions for consideration last year.

The Sano taskforce was set up to investigate allegations that emerged from the 2013 Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse involving religious and non-government organisations.

The taskforce also investigates allegations of abuse arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.