The third most powerful man in the Vatican has officially been convicted for sexually abusing two boys two decades ago when he was an archbishop.
Cardinal George Pell, who denied the allegations up through his conviction this past December, was once a top financial advisor to Pope Francis until he left in June of 2017 to stand trial for his crimes. An Australian jury unanimously convicted him on all charges in December, though a judge imposed a gag order on the trial in order to prevent it from leaking to the press ahead of time. (One Australian publication did an excellent job explaining why they couldn’t write about the situation.)
But now that gag order has been lifted, so news outlets can finally report what we’ve unofficially known for months: This child-raping Catholic leader is heading to jail, likely for the rest of his life.
… [Pell] is almost certain to face prison after a jury found him guilty of one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of an indecent act with or in the presence of a child in the late 1990s.
The court order was lifted after the crown prosecutor chose to not proceed with a planned second trial into further child sex allegations against Pell.
Pell has repeatedly maintained his innocence. His legal team confirmed on Tuesday they had filed an appeal against the guilty verdict.
The sentencing hearing begins on Wednesday, and Pell could face a maximum of 50 years behind bars. Given that he’s 77, though, a few decades should do the trick.
All of this is happening days after the Catholic Church held an essentially symbolic meeting about the child sexual abuse problem. Pope Francis said a lot of words, none of which were followed up with any plan of concrete action. But because this trial occurred with a secular judge instead of the Vatican, something tangible actually happened.
It’s about time. Let’s hope other Catholic priests follow in his footsteps… right into their own jail cells.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Portions of this article were published earlier)