Australian Cardinal George Pell gets 6 years for sexually abusing choirboys

Live: Catholic Church Cardinal George Pell sentenced for sexual abuse of children

Pell is the highest ranked member of the Catholic church to be sent to jail for child sexual abuse.

"There was a clear relationship of trust with the victims, and you breached that trust and abused your position", Kidd said.

Almost 100 people lined up outside the doors of the courtroom this morning, including media from around the world and protesters.

"I take into account the profound impact that your offending has had on (the survivor's) life".

The judge also warned that the power imbalance between Pell and the choirboys "was stark".

Kidd said that his sentence must demonstrate the "grave consequences" of breaking the law and that since Pell maintained his innocence throughout the trial, it would not be reduced as he showed no evidence of "remorse or contrition". Cardinal Pell ceased to be prefect of the economy secretariat February 24.

A Melbourne court has sentenced Cardinal George Pell, a former close ally of Pope Francis, to six years behind bars with a possibility of parole.

The judge said that as an archbishop, Cardinal Pell was "profoundly revered" and held up as a pillar of the community.

This scandal is even more serious than the lack of women in the Catholic Church, its archaic principle of celibacy or outdated ideas of sexual morality. The prosecution did not seek a "disproportionate sentence". "I thought it was a balanced, fair judgement".

Another added: "Six years for #GeorgePell is freaking atrocious and absolutely no justice for his victims, no matter how many years ago it occurred".

"I would just ask Australians today to get around those who have been victims of child sexual abuse", Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Melbourne only minutes before the verdict.

Pell was found guilty of orally raping one choirboy and molesting the other in December 1996 and assaulting one of the boys again in February 1997. His victims were two 13-year-old boys on scholarship to the prestigious St. Kevin's College.

It was the cardinal's second trial, as a jury in an earlier trial had failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

In his ruling, Judge Kidd was careful not to name the two victims, one of whom gave taped evidence against Pell on a video that was seen only by the jury during the trial.

With the trial details public, Weigel, Australian Jesuit lawyer Frank Brennan, and a number of critics have pointed out the holes in the prosecution's case, which rested exclusively on the testimony of one witness, now 35. "How much do we have to suffer, how insulted do we have to be, before real justice occurs?"

Shortly after the suppression order was lifted, the victim's lawyer released a statement on behalf of the victim.

Cardinal Pell bows as he shakes hands with Pope Francis at a session of Synod at the Vatican in 2015

"You are not to be made a scapegoat", he said.

"I have no doubt that you will experience some stress while in custody. Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact on my life". Pell was in the conclave that elected him and remains eligible for any potential future conclave until age 80 or unless he is removed.

Cardinal Pell's conviction has met with varied reactions.

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

"Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued".

Pell's appeal has been slated for a hearing on June 5 and 6.

The first jury were deadlocked 10-2 in Pell's favor.

State and federal inquiries would later find it to be one of the Catholic dioceses worst-affected by cases of abuse, though none of the complaints against Pell stem from his time there.

Chief judge Petter Kidd said during sentencing that he was aware that Pell may not outlive his sentence.

His hearing was broadcast live around the world on March 13 from Victoria's County Court in central Melbourne, the city where Pell formerly served as archbishop and committed the crimes. It is rare for Australian courtrooms to allow live broadcasts.

Last December, the now 77-year-old was found guilty on five charges relating to the sexual assault of two boys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

Last week, France's senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, was convicted of failing to report a known pedophile priest to police.

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

"You have not been charged with or convicted of any such failings".

"U.S. Catholics are still mostly confident in Pope Francis, but it could be argued that the 58% expressing confidence in him is somewhat weak given his role as leader of the Catholic church", Gallup said in an analysis of its survey.

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