The most senior Vatican official, Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years in prison for the “callous” assault of two choirboys in the late 1990s.
A former senior adviser to Pope Francis, Pell did not show any reaction when Chief Judge Peter Kidd proclaimed his sentence in a hearing broadcast live worldwide from Victoria’s County Court in central Melbourne.
According to a CNN report, Pell, 77, was found guilty of one count of sexual abuse on a child and four counts of committing a discourteous act with a child last December after a secret five-week trial. Reporting of the trial and verdict was subjugated by the court to avoid prejudicing a second trial, which crown prosecutors abandoned in February after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn’t be submitted.
The CNN report also indicated that Judge Kidd added that Pell’s attack on the victims was “breathtakingly arrogant” saying that the cardinal had assaulted boys with “callous indifference to the victims’ distress.” The judge added that Pell was “not to be made a scapegoat for any failings orperceived failings of the Catholic Church.”
Reporting outside the court, survivors of Catholic sex abuse who were present at the hearing said they felt justice had been done, while others thought the judge had been too lenient. A survivor popularly known as Michael Advocate, the report said, watching the scene on a live feed said, “Part of what went on today was just rot, absolutely rubbish. It’s just insulting to the victims and it’s insulting to all the other survivors like myself. There’s a disconnect between the sentence that is regularly handed out to the pedophile and the lifelong damage that is done to the victim.”
After the sentencing, a surviving victim said to CNN in a statement that it was hard for him “to take comfort in this outcome.”
Vivian Waller said “There is no rest for me,” he said through his lawyer, “I’m doing my best to hold myself and my family together.”
Holding the role of Vatican treasurer until last year, Pell was considered by many to be the third most senior position within the Roman Catholic Church.
Previously, Pell’s legal team announced it will appeal his conviction on three grounds, that the jury’s verdict on all five charges was irrational, owing to the evidence submitted.
The Court of Appeal is due to hear submissions in early June.