Australia's highest Catholic and chief financial adviser to Pope Francis, Cardinal George Pell, is to be charged with historical sex offences, Australian police say.

In the Catholic Church's long running sex abuse scandal, Pell will be the highest Vatican official ever to be charged.

Victoria State Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told a news conference: "Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons and he's required to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on the 18th of July this year for a filing hearing."

Patton said that Cardinal Pell faced multiple charges "in respect to historic sexual offences", adding that there are "multiple complainants".

Patton said that all normal procedures had taken place during the investigation, adding: "Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation".

Patton said that he would not take questions and Victoria Police would make no further comments on the matter.

Pell has repeatedly denied accusations made against him. He has face a number of allegations that he mishandled cases of sexual abuse by clergy while he was Archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney.

The Associated Press reported that Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that seven percent of Catholic priests in the country had been accused of sexual abusing children over a number of decades.

Cardinal George Pell at the Vatican
Vatican finance chief, Australian Cardinal George Pell attends a mass for the ordination of new bishops on March 19, 2016 VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images