Cardinal George Pell © Erik Anderson
The former Vatican finance chief, Australian Cardinal George Pell, must remain in prison for the time being. The Supreme Court in Melbourne has not yet announced a decision after two days of appeal proceedings.
Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison for sexual abuse of two choirboys. The 77-year-old appealed against the verdict. The former confidant of Pope Francis has always denied all accusations; he hopes for an acquittal.
Pell is the highest-ranking clergyman in the history of the Catholic Church ever convicted of sexual abuse of minors. As chief financial officer, he was practically Vatican number three. The Papal State announced in March that it would await the appeal before deciding on further consequences.
It is possible that Pell will lose all his titles and will not be allowed to remain a priest if the guilty verdict is confirmed. If he wins, he would be a free man again.
The accusations date back to 1996/97. At the time, Pell was archbishop of the Australian metropolis of Melbourne with its millions of inhabitants. The two choirboys were 13 years old at the time. One of the boys he forced to perform oral sex, according to the conviction of the court. Only one of the choirboys is still alive. The man, now 35, was the key prosecution witness in the trial.