Cardinal George Pell, Former Vatican Official, Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison

County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd said there was a real possibility that at aged 77 Cardinal Pell could spend the rest of his life in prison

Live: Catholic Church Cardinal George Pell sentenced for sexual abuse of children

Pell denies all allegations of wrongdoing and has launched an appeal to the convictions, to be heard by the Court of Appeal in June.

In emotional scenes, those abused by others joined together in Melbourne to witness the outcome of the sentence hearing.

The cardinal, 77, maintains his innocence and is appealing against his convictions.

However, the sentences were reduced to six years with the judge saying Pell had reformed and he was no risk to the community given the offenses were committed 22 years ago.

"Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance", said Judge Peter Kidd.

Cardinal George Pell, former Vatican finance minister and adviser to Pope Francis, faced a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of the five charges on which he was convicted.

Kidd maintained, however, that Pell's sentence was given "without fear or favour", the Guardian reported.

Pell was convicted in December of orally raping one 13-year-old choirboy and sexually abusing another after Sunday High Mass in the sacristy of Melbourne's cathedral in 1996, and of sexually abusing one of the pair again in a cathedral corridor months later.

What did the court hear previously?

State and federal inquiries would later find it to be one of the Catholic dioceses worst-affected by cases of abuse, though none of the complaints against Pell stem from his time there.

Sdrinis told Al Jazeera many victims feel the institutions who shielded priest perpetrators have yet to properly deal with this issue. Then he revealed himself to them and forced one of the boys to perform oral sex on him and then fondled the other, the complainant said.

Pell went on trial for the offences in December past year and a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts.

What did the judge say on Wednesday?

"You have not been charged with or convicted of any such failings".

The judge said he had considered Pell's age and health in determining the jail term and added that Pell should not "be made a scapegoat" for the failings of the Catholic Church.

His lawyers argue that the jury's verdict was "unreasonable" because it relied too heavily on the testimony of one person - the victim who is alive.

The deceased victim's father told CNN that his son had been an outgoing child who played sport and liked singing, a talent that earned him a scholarship to the prestigious boys' school and ultimately an invitation to sing in St. Patrick's Cathedral where the attack took place.

"There is no rest for me. I am doing my best to hold myself and my family together", said the victim, who can not be identified under Australian law protecting the identity of sex abuse victims.

Some advocates for abuse survivors said they had hoped for a tougher sentence.

"While it is uncertain how numerous 37% of U.S. Catholics who say they're questioning remaining in the church will actually leave in response to the latest sex abuse scandal, any loss of adherents is certainly not welcome news - especially when the church is dealing with larger societal trends moving away from formal religion", Gallup said.

What is the wider picture?

Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse in February by calling for an "all-out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the earth".

In February, Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was expelled from the priesthood for abusing children and adult seminarians. At a landmark Church summit on paedophilia last month, he said clergy guilty of abuse were "tools of Satan".

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