“The revelations came in the same month that the Vatican announced Francis approved the expulsion from the priesthood of a former high-ranking American cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, for sexual abuse of minors and adults.”
(Rod McGuirk – Associated Press) The most senior Catholic cleric ever charged with child sex abuse has been convicted of molesting two choirboys moments after celebrating Mass, dealing a new blow to the Catholic hierarchy’s credibility after a year of global revelations of abuse and cover-up.
Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ top financial adviser and the Vatican’s economy minister, bowed his head but then regained his composure as the 12-member jury delivered unanimous verdicts in the Victoria state County Court on Dec. 11 after more than two days of deliberation.
The court had until Tuesday forbidden publication of any details about the trial.
Pell faces a potential maximum 50-year prison term after a sentencing hearing that begins on Wednesday. He lodged an appeal last week of the convictions.
Details of the trial had been suppressed because until Tuesday, Pell had faced a second trial in April on charges that he indecently assaulted two boys aged 9 or 10 and 11 or 12 as a young priest in the late 1970s in a public pool in his hometown of Ballarat.
Prosecutor Fran Dalziel told the court on Tuesday that the Ballarat charges had been dropped and asked for the suppression order to be lifted. The move came days after a judge ruled out two key prosecution witnesses in the Ballarat case.