MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – The most senior Catholic cleric ever charged with child sex abuse has been convicted in Australia of molesting two choirboys moments after celebrating Mass.
Cardinal George Pell is Pope Francis’ top financial adviser and the Vatican’s economy minister. He bowed his head as a jury delivered unanimous verdicts in the Victoria state County Court on Dec. 11 after more than two days of deliberation.
The court had until Tuesday forbidden publication of any details about the trial.
The 77-year-old faces a potential maximum 50-year prison term after a sentencing hearing which begins on Wednesday. He has foreshadowed an appeal.
The jury convicted Pell of abusing two 13-year-old boys whom he had caught swigging sacramental wine in a rear room of Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 when he was archbishop.