Pope anniversary marked by Pell sentencing, scandal fallout

Pope anniversary marked by Pell sentencing, scandal fallout

Pope anniversary marked by Pell sentencing, scandal fallout

First of all, there will be a canonical investigation held by the Vatican into Pell's past, which could lead to his defrocking but will also remind the world how the Church is often forced to play catch-up after civil judges weed out its sex offenders.

Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Australia.

"Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending", County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd said of Pell during the sentencing, where he described Pell's crimes as "brazen" and grave".

That came crashing down in December, when a court found Pell, 77, guilty of five charges of child sex offences committed on two 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne.

Pell was 55 years old and had recently established a compensation plan for Melbourne's victims of clergy abuse when he abused the two boys at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

The verdict was first made public on February 26 after a court suppression order on the trial, preventing media reporting had been lifted.

Kidd stressed that by punishing Pell he does not seek to punish the whole Catholic Church, that has been rattled by the widespread allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Judge Kidd rejected a prosecution argument that Pell continues to pose a limited risk of re-offending because he shows no remorse or insight into the offending, given he maintains his innocence.

"The sentences are never long enough but the victims have been heard ... he has been given a sentence, the courts have prevailed".

"It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment, the moment when the sentence is handed down, the moment when justice is done", the man said in a statement read outside court by one of his lawyers.

The surviving victim said everything was overshadowed by Pell's upcoming appeal.

Live: Catholic Church Cardinal George Pell sentenced for sexual abuse of children
Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years in jail

Six years with three year non-parole period.

The Royal Commission found that seven percent of Australian priests had been accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2011, the average age of their victims was 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The judge also said it was important to acknowledge the "unique context" surrounding the case.

A crowd of around 150 people packed inside Melbourne's County Court 3.3 including victim support groups and Pell supporters with dozens more media and protesters with signs outside court.

In sentencing Pell, Kidd dismissed mental impairment as a factor in Pell's decision to offend.

The other boy, who never filed a complaint against Pell, had died in 2014 from a heroin overdose.

Worshipper Darryl D'Souza said Pell's conviction and sentencing was a sad situation for Catholics, but it did not change his belief in God or the church.

Campaigner against child sexual abuse, Leonie Sheedy, arrived at the court today hoping for justice.

With global attention on historic abuse within the Catholic church, Kidd however stressed that it was Pell rather than the Vatican that was on trial.

However, the judge also noted positive character witnesses including from former Prime Minister John Howard, of an "otherwise blameless life" and Pell's "exceptional career within the Church".

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