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Pope Taps Fellow Jesuit to Replace Cardinal Pell

Pope Francis greets cardinals in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican after an audience with students and teachers of the LUMSA Catholic University, Nov. 14, 2019.

Pope Francis has appointed a fellow Jesuit to be the Vatican's finance minister, filling a crucial position left vacant for more than two years after Cardinal George Pell left Rome to stand trial on sex abuse charges in his native Australia.

The appointment Thursday of the Rev. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, a 60-year-old Spanish economist, came one day after Australia's Supreme Court agreed to hear Pell's appeal of his conviction that he molested two youths in the 1990s. Pell denies the charges.

Francis created the Secretariat for the Economy, and named Pell its prefect, as a key part of his financial reform plans after being elected pope in 2013. Pell tried to wrestle the Holy See's opaque finances into order, but his efforts were rebuffed repeatedly by the Vatican's old guard.