VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13:  A woman holds rosary beads while she prays and waits for smoke to emanate from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel which will indicate whether or not the College of Cardinals have elected a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI's successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The Catholic Church's response to sexual abuse allegations
02:45 - Source: CNN
Rome CNN  — 

Pope Francis has removed three cardinals from his small council of advisers for reasons of advanced age, the Vatican said Wednesday, though two also have been the subject of allegations relating to sexual abuse or covering it up.

Cardinal George Pell, 77, of Australia; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, 85, of Chile; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, 79, of the Democratic Republic of Congo were removed from the council that Francis established in 2013, shortly after ascending to the papacy, the Vatican said in a statement.

Cardinal George Pell, in May

Pell, 77, was charged in his home country with multiple historical sexual assault offenses, police said in June. He is the most senior member of the Catholic Church in Australia but was placed on leave from the Vatican while the allegations are investigated.

Pell has said he’s innocent and maintains that the charges – relating to claims of sexual abuse spanning three decades – are false.

Errazuriz is being investigated by Chilean prosecutors on allegations that he didn’t act on reports of clergy abuse while he was archbishop of Santiago, the Catholic News Service and the Catholic News Agency reported.

Errazuriz has denied the allegations.

Errazuriz announced in November that he was leaving the council. At the time, he said simply that his term on the council had ended, both news outlets reported.

Pell and Errazuriz were original members of Francis’ council, which first included eight cardinals and convened to explore ways to reform the Catholic Church.