Cardinal George Pell has arrived in Sydney ahead of his first court appearance for historical sexual abuse charges later this month.
Pell was spotted during a stopover in Singapore on the weekend and arrived in Sydney this morning.
He was met by security and whisked away to a waiting car at the airport's loading dock.
He is due to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26.
Pell has always maintained his innocence and strenuously denied allegations of historical sexual abuse, the details of which have not been made public.
Late last month, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters the charges involved multiple complainants.
Deputy Commissioner Patton said the "process and procedures" being followed had been the same as those applied "in a whole range of historical sex offences, whenever we investigate them".
Pell grateful for 'messages of support'
A spokeswoman for Pell issued a statement several hours after his arrival saying the Cardinal's return should come as no surprise.
"When he was told of the charges by Victoria Police, Cardinal Pell said in Rome he totally rejected the allegations, was completely innocent of the charges and would return to Australia to vigorously defend himself and clear his name," the statement said.
"His return today then should not be a surprise."
The spokeswoman said Pell had staggered his journey over "several days" on advice from his doctors, in order to avoid long-haul flights.
"Cardinal Pell will not be making further comment other than to say he is grateful for the numerous messages of support he continues to receive," the statement said.
Pell: from publican's son to priest
Pell was the son of a Ballarat publican, a head prefect at school and a talented Australian Rules footballer, who was signed as a ruckman by the Richmond Football Club.
His studies took him to Rome and then Oxford.
In 1971 he returned to Victoria as an ordained priest, and rose through the ranks to eventually become Archbishop of Melbourne.
He rankled progressive Catholics with his resistance to change, including on issues such as the ordination of female priests, divorce and abortion.
He also refused communion to gay activists at one of his masses.
In 1990 he said: "Homosexuality — we're aware that it does exist. We believe such activity is wrong and we believe for the good of society it should not be encouraged."
His hardline conservatism caught the attention of Rome, and he was chosen to join a Vatican congregation dedicated to enforcing orthodoxy.
"There are many smorgasbord Catholics who choose a bit of this and that ... my business as bishop is to proclaim the whole of the message," he said.
In 1996, while Melbourne Archbishop, Pell became the first Catholic leader to address the child sexual abuse that has plagued the church.
He instigated a redress scheme called the Melbourne Response.
He then became Archbishop of Sydney and was made a cardinal.
In 2014, he was chosen by the Pope to get the Vatican's finances in order and he moved to Rome.