Cardinal George Pell has been spotted making his way to Rome as he returns to the Vatican for the first time since being cleared of child sexual abuse charges.

Pell was seen wearing a full-face protective shield in a Sydney Airport lounge, moments before boarding a 16-hour Qatar Airways flight.

He seemed to be travelling solo after hopping aboard the last flight out of Sydney.

According to 9News, NSW Police officers transported Pell into the airport through a different entrance to the one used by the public.

The 79-year-old is returning to the Holy See for the first time in three years since coming back to Australia to fight child sexual abuse allegations.

His arrival comes in the middle of a financial storm for the Vatican after Pope Francis sacked a Cardinal over embezzlement claims earlier this week.

Before his lengthy battle in court, Pell was employed as Pope Francis' Vatican finance minister, raising suspicions he may be returning to a job.

This article originally appeared on Over60.