Disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell was on Wednesday sentenced to six years in prison for the “brazen” sexual abuse of two choirboys, in what the judge lambasted as a “grave” abuse of power. The former Vatican number three — who managed church finances and helped elect two Popes — was sentenced in a Melbourne court on five counts, including oral rape and molestation of boys in 1996-1997.
Judge Peter Kidd, his remarks broadcast live on television, said the 77-year-old was guilty of “appalling, offending” and “breathtakingly arrogant” attacks that took advantage of his position of authority over the boys, then aged 13. Judge Kidd said the Cardinal, with his “significant history of cardiac problems”, would be eligible for parole in late 2022, but acknowledged that he “may not live to be released from prison”.
The Cardinal, a household name in Australia with friends that include Prime Ministers and business magnates, maintains his innocence and will appeal.
The attack took place in the sacristy after Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in December 1996, when he was the Archbishop of Melbourne.