Video: Smiling Cardinal Pell arrives in Australia to face historic sex abuse charges

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AAP

Cardinal George Pell has returned to Australia to face historical sexual abuse charges in Melbourne at the end of the month.

The 76-year-old was pictured early this morning leaving Sydney Airport after flying in from the Vatican via Singapore.

Victoria Police on June 30 charged the cardinal, a former Melbourne and Sydney archbishop and Ballarat priest, with multiple sex offences.

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Australia's most senior Catholic insists he is innocent and is looking forward to fighting the charges in court.

The cardinal, a top adviser to Pope Francis, has taken a leave of absence as the Vatican's financial chief to fight the charges.

He told reporters in Rome in June that the laying of charges had strengthened his resolve to prove his innocence.

"There has been relentless character assassination," he told reporters in Rome after the charges were laid.

"I'm looking forward, finally, to having my day in court.

"I'm innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

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