Most Senior Catholic Cleric Convicted Of Sex Abuse Goes To Prison

The cardinal emerges from court following today's proceedings

The cardinal emerges from court following today's proceedings

"The news of Cardinal George Pell's conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia".

Pell still maintains his innocence, despite the verdict, his lawyers said in a statement following the pre-sentencing hearing.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, now Vatican finance chief, in 2012. He did not elaborate. In a tweet late on Tuesday night, Gisotti said Pell "is no longer the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy".

On Wednesday, Pell entered the courtroom with the use of a cane and was told that each of his five charges came with up to 10 years in prison.

Richter also tried to suggest that an incident in which Pell grabbed one of the boys by the genitals in an attack that lasted seconds was "fleeting" and not worthy of a jail sentence.

The Vatican has reversed its earlier position and opened an investigation into allegations against Australia's Cardinal George Pell, who was taken to jail after a plea hearing Wednesday.

Pell faces a potential 50-year prison sentence for five convictions of sexual penetration and indecent acts involving the boys.

The physically ailing Pell had previously been on bail throughout the proceedings and underwent double knee surgery in Sydney in December.

Pell's lawyers will argue that the verdict was unreasonable, in what is a "fairly standard ground of appeal", said Matthew Collins, the president of the peak body for barristers, the Victorian Bar association.

Neither of Pell's victims, who were 13 years old at the time of the crime, have been named.

Pell groped one of the boys and placed his penis in the other boy's mouth, according to evidence given by one of victims, who can not be named under Australian law.

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Richter's arguments also did not appear to convince Kidd, who described Pell's behavior as "callous, brazen offending" and "shocking conduct", the Guardian reported.

Pell is expected to be sentenced in the next two weeks.

During the trial, the court had heard that Pell abused the two boys after catching them swigging from a bottle of sacramental wine.

"Our Judeo-Christian religious tradition allows men and women sexual expression within the bounds of family life, a sexuality which is life-giving", Pell said.

The Court of Appeal process, which could last up to a year, will see a bench usually made up of three judges review the same evidence that the jurors were presented with in the earlier trial.

The conviction of Pell, who had been appointed by Francis to be the Vatican's treasurer and help reform the Holy See's scandal-plagued financial institutions, risks further staining the pontiff's already spotty record on cracking down on credibly accused clergy and over transparency on church handling of high-profile cases.

"It leaves to me only one inference, which is at the time he thought he was going to get away with it".

But the bail application was later withdrawn.

He submitted a binder of documents to the court in Pell's defence, including 10 positive character references, including one from former prime minister John Howard.

The 88-year-old became the first Roman Catholic prelate in almost 100 years to lose the title of cardinal last July and is the highest profile church figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.

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