Pope orders Cardinal Pell to avoid contact with children until after the Vatican’s No.3 completes his appeal against child abuse conviction

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
By Paul Martin

Cardinal George Pell found guilty of sex assault and rape against two choir boys
He is on leave from his position in the Vatican and will appeal the convictions
Pope ordered him to stay away from children and banned him from public Mass
Court verdict can be revealed after gag order was lifted by a court on Tuesday

26 February 2019

The Pope has ordered Cardinal George Pell to stay away from children after the Catholic clergyman was convicted of rape and sex assault against two young boys.

Pell, the third most-senior member of the Catholic Church, has also been banned from saying Mass in public until his appeal against the conviction is over.

Acting Holy See spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Pope Francis is pained by Pell’s conviction and knows it has shocked many people in Australia, where he preaches.

But Francis also noted that Pell ‘has reiterated his innocence and has the right to defend himself’, Gisotti said.

The 77-year-old priest, who serves as the Vatican’s treasurer, could be jailed within weeks after being found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and one count of rape by a Melbourne jury last December.

The trial and verdict could not be reported until now due to a suppression order issued because Pell was due to face another trial on separate child abuse charges.

But those additional charges have now been dropped, and a judge was able to lift the reporting restrictions.

Pell’s victims were two 13-year-old boys on scholarships to the prestigious St Kevin’s College.

The pair ‘nicked off’ after a Sunday solemn mass in late 1996 and were caught swigging sacramental wine in the priest’s sacristy by Pell, newly installed as Archbishop of Melbourne.

‘What are you doing here, you’re in trouble,’ Pell scolded their boys.

The jury was told Pell exposed his penis from beneath his ornate ceremonial robes, and molested the pair.

Pell had repeatedly and vehemently denied the accusations against him and Pope Francis had granted him a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself. He has lodged an appeal of his conviction.

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