What happens to the disgraced cardinal now — George Pell

Melbourne Australia. Cardinal George Pell was remanded in custody on 27 February following a pre-sentence hearing. Pell once the third most powerf

A worldwide audience has witnessed Australia's highest-ranking Catholic and a former top adviser to Pope Francis being sentenced to six years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months, for committing five child sex offences back in the 1990s.

If the sentence stands, Pell will be a registered sex offender for life.

"The offending which the jury has found you have engaged in was, on any view, breathtakingly arrogant", the judge ruled.

After his conviction, the Vatican launched its own investigation into Pell, which could lead to the cardinal losing his clerical status or being "defrocked", a severe punishment imposed by the Pope and not subject to appeal.

Pell's appeal has been slated for a hearing on June 5 and 6.

"I am conscious that the term of imprisonment.carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison", the judge said. He had faced a maximum of 10 years in jail for each charge. "I think this is a tipping point for the Catholic Church", said Patten.

The most senior Catholic official to be convicted of sexual abuse, Pell took leave in 2016 as economy minister for the Vatican to fight the charges.

Vivian Waller, who represented Pell's surviving victim, said it was a very considered judgement.

"I am mindful I am sentencing you within a unique context", the chief judge said.

Speaking to A Current Affair, she said she spoke to Pell in 1992 and told him about what had happened to her and her sister. He also probably believed his victims would not complain.

Pell's fate within the church has yet to be decided.

The sentence "makes a mockery of the concept of true accountability and is not a sentence commensurate with the crimes committed and the harm reaped", Blue Knot Foundation president Cathy Kezelman said in a statement.

Judge Kidd said the first episode, in the priest's sacristy involved a "brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims".

The judge took into account the victims' emotional wellbeing and impact on their relationships, culminating in an "immediate" and "profound impact" on their lives.

In February, the Vatican hosted an anti-child abuse conference in which Pope Francis declared an "all-out battle" against the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

The victim, identified by sentencing judge Peter Kidd only as J, told the court that Pell exposed himself to the boys, forced J to perform oral sex, and on a separate occasion, grabbed his genitals following a Sunday mass.

"It is not for me to second guess the verdict", Justice Kidd also emphasised, just after 10am in Melbourne's County Court.

Pell suffers from what Judge Kidd described as "significant enough" health issues, including hypertension, congestive heart failure - he has a pacemaker - and osteoarthritis in both knees.

It was after Pell left his hometown to become Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 that he committed offences against two choir boys in the city's St Patrick's Cathedral for which he was found guilty by the 12-person jury.

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