JOHANNESBURG, February 26 – An Australian court on Tuesday lifted a suppression order on the case of Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican finance chief, who was convicted of child sexual abuse in December, local media reported.
According to The Times newspaper, Pell’s conviction has been under a strict suppression order until Tuesday’s hearing, when Peter Kidd, the Melbourne judge, announced that there was “very strong ground” for convicting the cardinal guilty of child sex crimes.
Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996, when he was appointed as Archbishop of Melbourne. The assaults were reported by one of the victims in 2015. The cardinal faces years in prison, but his lawyers said that Pell would appeal against the conviction, as he continued to reject all accusations.
Pell, 78, was appointed as the Vatican treasurer by Pope Francis in 2014, while before that he served as the Archbishop of Sydney and of Melbourne and was Australia’s most prominent Catholic leader. After being charged by Melbourne police in 2017, Pell came back to Australia and after sentencing in December 2018 he was dismissed from his post in the Vatican and expelled from the Pope’s circle of most trusted cardinals. (Sputnik)