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If Ms Wallington decides there is insufficient evidence to commit Cardinal Pell to trial, the Director of Public Prosecutions has the discretionary power to review the magistrate's decision and "directly present" an accused person to trial.

Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled there is sufficient evidence of multiple charges against Pell, who is the third-ranking official under Pope Francis.

Until now, Pell has not had to formally enter a plea, although he instructed his lawyer from the outset to make clear he meant to plead not guilty.

Pell arrived by auto in front of the downtown court where more than 40 uniformed police officers were waiting to maintain order as media jostled on the crowded sidewalk to videotape and photograph him.

Robert Richter, the cardinal's lawyer, said past year there was "voluminous" evidence to prove that "what was alleged is impossible".

The 76-year-old, who entered the Melbourne court with a heavy police presence, said "not guilty" without hesitation when asked.

His alleged victims testified in the first two weeks of the preliminary hearing via a video link from a remote location to a room closed to the media and public.

During the hearing, the court heard allegations of sexual offending occurring at a swimming pool, cinema and cathedral spanning from the 1970's to 1990's. Pell went on to become the Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.

At the time of his promotion, Pell was already facing allegations that he had mishandled cases of clergy abuse during his time leading the church in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia's largest cities.

Pell was charged last June and given leave by Pope Francis from the Vatican to contest the charges in his native country.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at court.

Cardinal Pell's barrister Mr Robert Richter, QC, told the hearing that the cardinal was being punished for failing to prevent the abuse of young children in Catholic institutions.

During the pre-hearing, the defence repeatedly attacked the police investigation into Pell, which began in March 2013 before any crime had been reported.