An Australian court has convicted Cardinal George Pell, the third highest ranking official in the Catholic Church, on charges of sexually abusing two choir boys,
NPR has reported.
Pell, who served as Vatican City’s de facto finance chief, was accused in hearings before the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse of covering up abuse committed by priests when he served as the Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001.
Pell allegedly abused as many as 10 minors who now range between the late 20s to the early 50s. A task force investigating these claims has said that the Cardinal abused minors by 'both grooming and opportunity'.
Pell left Rome in June 2017 to stand trial in Melbourne. Two choir boys accused Pell of sexually abusing them in a backroom at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where they sang, when he was the archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
Pell will also stand trial for allegedly abusing two other boys at a swimming pool in Victoria in the 1970s, when he served as a priest there. The Catholic Church was engulfed in a major crisis this year as reports emerged of widespread sexual misconduct by members of the clergy across the world. Pope Francis himself was accused of being directly involved in covering up sexual abuse by a disgraced Cardinal.
A Pennsylvania grand-jury report released in August exposed the rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by 301 padres in Pennsylvania churches over 70 years.