Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years in prison with a three year and eight month non-parole period for historical sexual abuse charges in the Melbourne County Court today.
Chief Judge Peter Kidd said:
“Over the last period we have witnessed in the community examples of a witch hunt or lynch mob mentality in relation to you George Pell. I utterly condemn such behaviour,” he said.
“That has nothing to do with justice in a civilised society. The courts stand as a bulwark against such irresponsible behaviour.”
The Cardinal is also “not to be made a scapegoat of any failings or perceived failings of the Church”, and must not be sentenced for any failure to prevent or report child sexual abuse by other clergy within the Catholic Church, he said.
He said he believed Cardinal Pell has reformed and is not a risk to the community, although his conviction means that he will be registered as a sex offender for life.
The Cardinal maintains his innocence and his appeal against his conviction will be considered over two days from 5-6 June.
Edited from Catholic Weekly of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia
FULL TEXT STATEMENT FROM ARCHBISHOP MARK COLERIDGE, PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE
The news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia. The Bishops agree that everyone should be equal under the law, and we respect the Australian legal system. The same legal system that delivered the verdict will consider the appeal that the Cardinal’s legal team has lodged. Our hope, at all times, is that through this process, justice will be served. 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. February 26, 2019