Cardinal to face Australian court on sex abuse charges

The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis will appear in an Australian court in a hearing to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try him.

Australian Cardinal George Pell's preliminary hearing begins in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday and is scheduled to take up to a month.

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 them as "historical" sexual assault offenses, meaning they occurred decades ago.

Pell's lawyer has told the court that the cardinal plans to formally plead not guilty.