Pope Francis has removed Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third highest ranking official, from his inner circle over child sexual abuse.

Pell was removed alongside Chile’s Francisco Javier Errazuriz and both will no longer sit on the Council of Cardinals, set up by the pope as an international advice body.

BBC reports that the pair were absent from the last meeting of the group in September.

A spokesperson said the Pope wrote to them both in October to thank them.

Pope Removes Cardinal Pell From Inner Circle Over Child Sexual Abuse
Cardinal George Pell.

Pell, who remains the Vatican treasurer, faces trial on sexual abuse charges in Australia – accusations the cardinal strenuously denies.

His Chilean colleague, Cardinal Errazuriz, faces accusations that he covered up alleged child abuse while serving as Archbishop of Santiago, claims he also denies.

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya has also left the group, spokesman Greg Burke said, noting that the 79-year-old recently retired from his role as archbishop of Kinshasa, and has not been implicated in any scandals.

The group, known as C9, has no plan to immediately fill its three empty seats, Mr Burke reportedly said.