THE most senior Roman Catholic figure in Australia, Cardinal George Pell, has been found guilty of five incidents of historical sexual abuse of choirboys in the 1990s. Cardinal Pell denied the charges.
The unanimous decision in the Victorian County Court came after the jury in a previous hearing did not reach a verdict (News, 1 May). He will be sentenced in February.
The decision cannot be published in any Australian media because of a suppression order. Various media outlets are currently contesting the ban, imposed by Judge Peter Kidd on the grounds that coverage could prejudice other legal actions involving the Cardinal.
Cardinal Pell faces a trial in March next year on separate child sexual-abuse charges relating to the 1970s. However, the court’s verdict has been widely disseminated in Australia through internet sites and social media, prompting calls for suppression orders to be reviewed.
Cardinal Pell, who is 77, is on leave of absence from his post as the Vatican’s Secretary for the Economy. This week he was one of three cardinals removed from the Pope’s nine-strong advisory body, the Council of Cardinals.
He was the RC Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001, and of Sydney from 2001 to 2014.