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Motilal Oswal
March 14, 2019 10:39 AM IST | Unwind

Cardinal George Pell: The most senior Catholic convicted of child abuse

The conviction and sentencing of Cardinal George Pell represent a remarkable downfall for the man who was Pope Francis' former finance minister and third-highest ranking Catholic in the Vatican.

Pell, the most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse, was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for molesting two choirboys in a Melbourne, Australia, cathedral more than 20 years ago.

He was convicted by a unanimous jury verdict of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and the boy's 13-year-old friend in the late 1990s, months after becoming archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell was appointed Archbishop of Sydney in 2001, and Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 2003. Francis appointed Pell to the powerful position of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in 2014.

Francis removed Pell as a member of his informal Cabinet in October, shortly before he was convicted of the abuse. He remained prefect of the Vatican's economy ministry, but his five-year term expired last month.

Pell also is being investigated by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which has the power to remove him from the priesthood.

In this December 10, 2018, photo, Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, departs an Australian court. Pell was sentenced in an Australian court on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, to 6 years in prison for molesting two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
In this December 10, 2018, photo, Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, departs an Australian court. Pell was sentenced in an Australian court on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, to 6 years in prison for molesting two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
In this September 14, 2004, Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, celebrates a special mass in Sydney's St. Mary's Cathedral. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
In this September 14, 2004, Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, celebrates a special mass in Sydney's St. Mary's Cathedral. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
In this July 15, 2008, Cardinal George Pell speaks during the opening mass for World Youth Day in Sydney. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
In this July 15, 2008, Cardinal George Pell speaks during the opening mass for World Youth Day in Sydney. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
In this July 21, 2008, then Pope Benedict XVI, right, gestures as he sits with Cardinal George Pell during a ceremony to thank World Youth Day volunteers in Sydney. (Dean Lewins/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this July 21, 2008, then Pope Benedict XVI, right, gestures as he sits with Cardinal George Pell during a ceremony to thank World Youth Day volunteers in Sydney. (Dean Lewins/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this July 15, 2008, Cardinal George Pell walks onto the stage for the opening mass for World Youth Day in Sydney. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
In this July 15, 2008, Cardinal George Pell walks onto the stage for the opening mass for World Youth Day in Sydney. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
In this June 29, 2017, Cardinal George Pell meets the media at the Vatican. Pell was sentenced in an Australian court on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 to 6 years in prison for molesting two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
In this June 29, 2017, Cardinal George Pell meets the media at the Vatican. Pell was sentenced in an Australian court on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 to 6 years in prison for molesting two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
In this Oct. 12, 2005, then Pope Benedict XVI, left, and Cardinal George Pell bless the faithful during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
In this Oct. 12, 2005, then Pope Benedict XVI, left, and Cardinal George Pell bless the faithful during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
In this June 29, 2017, Cardinal George Pell leaves after meeting the media at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
In this June 29, 2017, Cardinal George Pell leaves after meeting the media at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
In this May 2, 2018, , Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, leaves court in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake, File)
In this May 2, 2018, , Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, leaves court in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake, File)
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo, Cardinal George Pell leaves the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, after his conviction. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo, Cardinal George Pell leaves the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, after his conviction. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
In this February 27, 2019, Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File)
In this February 27, 2019, Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File)
In this December 7, 2018 photo, Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, steps out of a car using walking crutches as he arrives at an Australian court. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
In this December 7, 2018 photo, Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, steps out of a car using walking crutches as he arrives at an Australian court. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
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