NY TIMES — MELBOURNE, Australia — George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday, with no chance for parole for three years and eight months, for molesting two boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.
The cardinal was convicted on five counts in December, making him the most senior Catholic official — and the first bishop — to be found guilty in a criminal court for sexually abusing minors, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
“I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,” the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: “You had time to reflect on your behavior as you offended, yet you refused to desist.”
The sentence, which by law could be up to 50 years, was closely watched around the world.
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“The importance of this case cannot be understated,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org.
The sentence, handed down in Melbourne, Australia, where Cardinal Pell first rose to prominence as an archbishop, followed two years of legal jockeying over evidence and accusations of sexual abuse, most of which were kept from public view by Australia’s legal system until recently.
Cardinal Pell’s conviction was unsealed only two weeks