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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison on abuse charges

Cardinal George Pell, 77, was sentenced to six years in prison on 13th March, just over two weeks after a Melbourne court allowed the publication of news that he had been found guilty of sexually abusing two boys.

Cardinal Pell, who continues to maintain his innocence, will try to appeal the verdict. The court has set 5th-6th June as the dates to consider the basis for the appeal.

In December, a jury had found him guilty on five charges, each of which carried a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The jury unanimously found that Cardinal Pell, shortly after being named archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, sexually assaulted two choirboys in the sacristy of Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. The guilty verdict regarded one count of “sexual penetration,” in this case oral sex, and four counts of indecent acts with or in the presence of a minor under 16 years of age.

Judge Peter Kidd spent more than one hour explaining the reasoning behind his sentencing and the factors he considered. He repeatedly referred to the cardinal’s position of authority over the choirboys and the breach of trust his actions caused.

The judge said he did not consider Cardinal Pell a risk to offend again and noted that it had been more than 20 years since the incidents in the trial. He also referred to character references he had received.

However, he ordered the cardinal to register as a sex offender and told him he would remain on that registry the rest of his life.

Picture: Australian Cardinal George Pell is seen outside the County Court in Melbourne on 27th February 2019. (CNS photo/Erik Anderson, Reuters).