The Vatican responds to ‘painful’ George Pell sex abuse verdict
The Vatican says it is distressed by the “painful” conviction of Cardinal George Pell on child sex offences.
The headquarters of the Roman Catholic church has released a statement saying Pell has been suspended from public duties, and no further action will take place until the appeal process is complete.
“It is painful news that, we are well aware, has shocked many people, not only in Australia,” the statement said.
“As already stated on other occasions, we reiterate 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.
“In order to ensure the course of justice, the Holy Father has confirmed the precautionary measures which had been imposed by the local Ordinary on Cardinal George Pell when he returned to Australia. That is, while awaiting the definitive assessment of the facts, as is the norm, Cardinal George Pell is prohibited from exercising public ministry and from having any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.”
Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal Pell, was yesterday found guilty of sexual offences against choirboys while archbishop of Melbourne.
Click PLAY below to hear Ray Hadley break the news
A jury convicted Pell of five sexual assault charges against the boys, dating back to his time as newly-installed Archbishop of Melbourne at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.
His victims were boys in their early teens who Pell had caught drinking sacramental wine.
Pell is expected to be taken into custody as early as today and sentenced in March.
Pell’s lawyers have already indicated he will launch an appeal.
The verdict was handed down in December but media was prevented from reporting the matter until yesterday.
Pell was one of the Pope’s closest confidants, and a key manager of the Vatican’s finances.
He is the most senior Catholic cleric ever convicted.
One of the victims, now in his 30s, brought the allegations to police after years of having struggled to understand what he’d experienced.
He has released a statement thanking the public for their support.
— Melissa Davey (@MelissaLDavey) February 26, 2019
The other victim died in 2014 from a heroin overdose.
There are overwhelming calls for Pell’s controversial Melbourne Response to be dismantled in the wake of his conviction.
The scheme was established during his time as Archbishop of Melbourne to deal with complaints of sexual abuse.
Under the arrangement, victims could only receive compensation if they signed a ‘deed of release’, barring them from ever bringing criminal charges against the church.
Lawyer Judy Courtin tells Chris Smith that Pell was protecting perpetrators through the scheme.
“He was certainly protecting the church as a whole, their assets as a whole, and protecting the offenders.”
It’s estimated the Melbourne Response saved the church from paying up to $62 million in compensation.
The Archdiocese of Melbourne is still insisting on the legality of the deeds.