Australia’s most senior Catholic official, and the former Vatican treasurer – Cardinal George Pell – has been convicted for the sexual abuse of two boys. His sentence will be delivered tomorrow.
Last December, the Cardinal was found guilty of sexually abusing two 13 year-old boys who sang in the church’s choir. At the time, legal restrictions put in place meant that Pell’s name could not be revealed to the public, however a judge lifted those restrictions yesterday.
Pell was suspended from his position as Cardinal in 2017 before he was fully removed from the religious office entirely.
The abuse began in Melbourne in 1966. The jury found Pell guilty of one charge of sexually penetrating a child, and four charges of indecent acts against children. One of Pell’s victims has since died from a drug overdose in 2014.
The court heard that Pell would reprimand the boys for drinking communion wine before forcing them into indecent acts.
One of the victims of abuse spoke in court about the “shame, loneliness, depression and struggle” he experienced as a result. He told the court:
“Like many survivors, it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life.”
A statement released on behalf of the Cardinal reads: “Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so.”
The Holy See has commented on the case in a statement from the Vatican:
“As already expressed on other occasions, we have the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities. Out of this respect, we await the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal.”
Cardinal Pell has been a long time vocal opponent of LGBT+ rights and marriage equality in Australia.
In 1990 he said:
“Homosexuality – we’re aware that it does exist. We believe such activity is wrong and we believe for the good of society it should not be encouraged.”
He was later quoted as saying that homosexuality is “a much greater health hazard than smoking”.
Among other homophobic comments made by Pell, the Cardinal opposed marriage equality in Australia in 2012. He said:
“Although the community formed by a homosexual couple may involve genuine caring, affection and commitment to one another, it is not an inherently procreative community, because their sexual relationship is not designed to create children.”
If you were affected by any of the issues highlighted in this article you can reach out to the following:
Irish Rape Crisis Centre
T (24-hour helpline): 1800778888 | W: https://www.rapecrisishelp.ie/
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
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