Cardinal Pell found guilty of sexually abusing altar boys

Pell has vigorously denied allegations he molested two altar boys during a swimming trip in the 1990s when he was bishop in Ballarat

Cardinal George Pell (Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews)

Cardinal George Pell has been convicted by an Australian court on charges of sexual abuse of minors, according to media reports and CNA sources close to the cardinal.

A judicial gag order has restricted Australian media coverage of the trial since June.

Despite the gag order, a story published Dec. 11 on the Daily Beast website first reported that a unanimous verdict of guilty had been returned by a jury on charges that Pell sexually abused two altar servers in the late 1990s, while he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

The verdict reportedly followed three days of deliberations by the jury – the second to hear the case. An earlier hearing of the case is reported to have ended in early autumn with a mistrial, after jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

In October, two sources close to Cardinal Pell, members of neither his legal team nor the Catholic hierarchy in Australia, told CNA that the first hearing of the case had ended in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury.

In remarks to CNA Dec. 12, those sources independently confirmed this week’s report that a guilty verdict had been reached.

Pell will reportedly be sentenced in early 2019. He will not be incarcerated prior to his sentencing.

Citing deference to the gag order, the Vatican has declined to comment on reports of the guilty verdict.

“The Holy See has the utmost respect for the Australian courts. We are aware there is a suppression order in place and we respect that order,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told reporters Dec 12.

Pell has been accused of multiple instances of sexual abuse of minors. In May, lawyers for the cardinal petitioned the County Court of Victoria to split the allegations into two trials, one dealing with the accusations from Melbourne, and another dealing with accusations related to his time as a priest in Ballarat in the 1970s.

In October, Pope Francis removed Pell, along with Cardinal Javier Errazuriz and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, from the C9 Council of Cardinals charged with helping the pope draft a new constitution for the Holy See’s governing structure.

Until the imposition of the gag order in June, Pell had been the subject of sustained media attention in Australia, prompting the order. The extent of hostile attention directed at Pell by several Australian outlets, even prior to the accusations being made, led to a public debate in some sections of the Australian media about whether it would be possible to find an impartial jury for the cardinal.

In remarks to CNA, one source called the integrity of the proceeding into question, calling the trial a “farce” and a “witch hunt.” He said that Australian prosecutors were determined to secure a conviction, despite the earlier mistrial.

“They kept going until they got the jury who’d give them what they want,” the source told CNA.

If the decision is confirmed, Pell can appeal to the Supreme Court in Victoria, and from there to the Australian High Court.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. Once this verdict is final, then Cardinal Pell MUST resign, in my opinion. If Pope Francis allows him to keep his ‘red hat’ Francis loses all credibility.

    • Anonymous in L.A says

      Looks like former Cdl. McCarrick will have a kindred friend in Cdl. Pell. Maybe they will compare notes.

    • Anonymous in L.A. says

      The Holy Father’s credibility, as well as his adherence to Church teaching, is already in question. Removal of Cdl. Pell from the College of Cardinals will not do anything for the Holy Father’s credibility.

      • because you’ve already prejudged his credibility. Because you don’t like him.

      • Andrew (Andy) Alcock says

        I think it will help a lot! Although I thought he should have dismissed Pell before this.
        In Francis, we have a pope who stands for humanity, social justice, care for the environment – unlike his 2 predecessors who supported Opus Dei the very extremely right wing movement in the Catholic Church.
        I am not a Catholic, but I admire those in the Liberation Theology movement who have fought for equality, social justice and human rights. pope Francis is only human like all of us, but he is a much better human being than Pell.

  2. Steve Seitz says

    Another member of Pope Francis’s inner circle goes down as a perp.

    The question becomes: who in the Pope’s inner circle is not a perp?

  3. He had been put in charge of cleaning up the ‘Vatican Bank’….and then all these allegations come up!

    Something seems fishy to me!!!!!!

    • Diane, Pell facsd great resistance from other major vatican players whose money transfers and secret accounts began to be revealed. Pell might be lucky to be alive. No doubt that the mafia’s superstructure,the ndrangheta , was about to be disturbed.

    • Mark Armstrong says

      Diane – Check the ABC report , hear the victims stories !

  4. “Pell has vigorously denied allegations he molested two altar boys during a swimming trip in the 1990s when he was bishop in Ballarat.” The fact that there was a mistrial in the first case, and the now general animus toward clerics charged with molestation, plus the unpopularity of conservative Pell in liberal Australia, makes me wonder if this was a kangaroo court. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  5. Anonymous in L.A. says

    Francis has already taken the first step to signal removal of Cdl. Pell from the College of Cardinals:

  6. This will effectively end any condition where a priest befriends a young man for any reason, whether it is pastoral for a youth in trouble or mentoring toward the priesthood or anything in between. The consequences of an accusation are too serious for anyone to risk that anymore. True or false, what has transpired in the Pell case is probably the most dastardly demonic to date, and that includes McCarrick.

  7. Shows you that conservatism in clerics isn’t a guarantee of moral uprightness.

    • That does nothing of the sort, this case is very much questionable – for reasons others here have listed, and I 100% concur. Sorry, Pell doesn’t have a “gay” profile, this looks like a setup, and I am no where near oblique or naive. Had it been McCarrick, I’d say lock him up, but not because he’s a so-called lib or modernist.

      • We cannot all sit and watch our church be razed to the ground, for the sins of all the bad priests! When we give hard-earned money to the church, it must be used for valid purposes! Many good Catholic families in California and New Mexico are hard-working, but do not have much money— and they need and deserve good parish churches and schools– and good, respectable priests you can count on, for all religious needs, from birth until death! (And even before birth– for pro-life issues!– unfortunately, Abp. Wester has not always been very supportive of his pro-life priests! Can he possibly change??)

      • Mark Armstrong says

        it has nothing to do with being gay – Read the victims statements. Read the witnesses statements. He has ruined lives

    • So depressing! Abp. John C. Wester (Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM) — a liberal San Fran. native– just announced he has 40 active clergy sex abuse cases– so he is seeking bankruptcy insurance! How many bad (gay predator?) priests does he have?? Depressing! And who will pay for Cdl. Pell’s sins??

      • Sorry– I meant to say that Abp. Wester is seeking bankruptcy protection, not insurance! The New Mexico Attorney General recently executed a search warrant on files of the Santa Fe Archdiocese, due to the sex abuse crimes.

  8. Matthew de San Luis Obispo says

    A great many (not fans of Francis) are suggesting that Pell got railroaded by a kangaroo court. The first time he was tried resulted in a hung jury. While he was convicted, I’m not so sure he’s actually guilty. He’s appealing. I think some here would do well by dialing it back a bit to see how his retrial goes.

    Pell is hardly a Francis sycophant — which might be the very reason he might have been railroaded. It wouldn’t be the first hit-job by the Lavender mafia. Sit tight, y’all…

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      So let me see if I understand your thinking here. The gay “Lavendar mafia” as you call it is guilty of sex abuse itself yet it railroads someone with false charges of sex abuse? How does that make any sense? If the supposed Lavendar mafia were out to do a “hit job” on someone, make false allegations and railroad someone, why wouldn’t they railroad or falsely charge him with something they have nothing to do with – say, for example, financial corruption. Why would a gay person falsely charge another gay person with being gay when they could charge him with a thousand OTHER things, something that doesn’t make themselves look bad?

  9. Cardinal Pell is not liked by liberal Catholics because he wrote against the false idea of primacy of conscience. C. Pell has been attacked for years for this as well as his investigation of the Vatican Bank. His time may have run out because of the intense scrutiny of the priest scandal. I pray the truth prevails in his case as well as the the ones who have not faced court rooms whether they are guilty of not.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      Lisa, the man was convicted in a criminal court of law. Unless you have some exculpatory evidence, all you are doing by opining here is participating in the corruption of lies that seeks to hide priest sex abuse.

  10. The secrecy surrounding the trial casts aspersions against its integrity. The public has a right to know if the proceedings are fair. Secret trials are how police states like China conduct business.

  11. A conservative Cardinal charged with investigating Vatican bank suddenly accused of homosexual predatory behavior almost 30 years in the past, case ends in mistrial, then new trial is orchestrated, all done in secrecy, no transparency whatsoever. And, of course, Vatican has no comment. How convenient for them. No wonder the only thing they are willing to say is what great respect they have for Australian court. It did them a great favor by taking the Cardinal off their hands and off their secret bank accounts.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      Keep in mind that almost all the incidence of abuse that we are now dealing with happenned decades in the past. In fact, some go back as far as the 1950’s – seventy years ago, to priests who are now long dead! McCarrick’s abuse goes back at least 30 years! Why is it that you don’t believe it when a conservative bishop is charged, yet you jump all over it when a liberal bishop is charged. We should not be using any kind of ideology to decide the guilt or innocense of anyone. We should investigate thoroughly and remove those who are guilty. Period.

      • Australian Catholic says

        We are not getting any news here in Australia re the evidence given, but in articles from America it seems that the guilty verdict may well have been perverse, and against logic. It is easy to jump on the bandwagon of “He’s guilty”, because a Court has found him guilty – especially if someone has been sexually abused by a priest him/ herself or if someone close to them has been abused in this way, but it looks as if that Guilty decision should be appealed. My guess is that the verdict will not stand scrutiny. It might be very wise to wait for the appeal process to be finalised.

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