Pope Francis’ top financial adviser and the Vatican’s economy minister has been convicted in an Australian court for molesting two choir boys after celebrating Mass. After more than two days of deliberations in the Victoria state County Court, jurors handed down the guilty verdict on December 11, 2018. Until last Tuesday, the court forbid the publishing of any of the trial details.
Cardinal George Pell, age 77, will have his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, and is facing a 50 year maximum prison term. Pell was convicted of molesting two 13-year old boys after catching them drinking sacramental wine at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral when he was archbishop in 1996. Pell was also found guilty of assaulting one of the two juveniles over a month after the initial molestation.
Pell maintained his innocence throughout the duration of the trial, calling the accusations against him “vile and disgusting conduct”. He also claimed such actions went against everything he believed in. Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter claimed only a mad man would take such a risk as to abuse boys in such a public place. Richter called allegations that Pell exposed his penis and forced a victim to “take it in his mouth” “laughable”, because of the cumbersome robes he wears.
Richter and chief Judge Peter Kidd insisted that the jury, consisting of eight men and four women, not to hold Pell accountable for the failings of the Catholic Church. Kidd told the jury “you must not scapegoat Cardinal Pell”.