Australian Cardinal Pell faces abuse sentencing hearing

Australia's most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell departs the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne Wednesday

Australia's most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell departs the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne Wednesday

He denied all the charges. He was convicted on retrial on December 11.

A suppression order preventing Australian media reporting on Pell's trial and the jury verdicts in December was lifted on Tuesday, enabling transcripts of the evidence presented to be reported on.

He was convicted in December of raping one choirboy in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral and molesting another in 1996.

The convictions carry a maximum 50-year prison sentence.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia.

"I knew a scholarship could be given or taken away, even at that age".

But his career has been dogged first by claims that he covered up child sexual abuse by priests, and then later that he was himself an abuser.

Apart from saying "Not guilty" in a firm and defiant voice when five charges were read at the outset of the trial, Pell remained silent.

He expected mixed reactions from local Catholics, with some who'd come across Cardinal Pell and had good experiences to be at odds with those disappointed in the guilty verdicts against the highest-ranked Catholic in the country.

The court had issued a suppression order on the trial out of concern that a second trial Pell faced could be prejudiced by the outcome of the first case.

In 2014, he was handpicked by Pope Francis to make the church's finances more transparent.

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Sentencing is scheduled for next week, though Pell, who has been out on bail, could be taken into custody at a plea hearing Wednesday.

It is understood Mr Morrison would ask the Governor-General to revoke Pell's AO although only after the appeal, if unsuccessful.

As Vatican treasurer, the 77-year-old cardinal is one of the Church's most powerful officials.

"In the meantime, we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable".

Until the verdict, Pell's lawyers had appeared confident that they had established a reasonable doubt in the minds of the 12-member jury.

Australian journalist Gerard Henderson wrote that Pell has been the victim of a "modern-day witch hunt", while highlighting biased coverage of Pell by the Australian media, which he attributed to journalistic hostility to "Pell's conservatism".

Prosecutors have since chose to not go ahead with the second case.

In a statement, the ad interim Director of the Vatican Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, says the Holy See "while awaiting the definitive judgement", unites itself "with the Australian bishops in praying for all victims of abuse".

At some point we realise that we trusted someone we should have feared and we fear those genuine relationships that we should trust.

Pell sat emotionless in the dock flanked by three uniformed officers as the court also heard there would be two victim impact statements tendered.

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