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Cardinal found guilty of sexual offences in Australia

Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of sexual offences in Australia, making him the highest-ranking Catholic figure to receive such a conviction.

Pell abused two choir boys in the rooms of a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury found. He had pleaded not guilty.

The verdict was handed down in December, but it could not be reported until now due to legal reasons.

Pell is due to face sentencing hearings from Wednesday. He has lodged an appeal against his conviction.

As Vatican treasurer, the 77-year-old cardinal was one of the Church’s most powerful officials.

His trial was heard twice last year because a first jury failed to reach a verdict.

A second jury unanimously convicted him of one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.

Pell was swarmed by media and heckled by onlookers as he left a court on Tuesday.

The Catholic Church worldwide has in recent years faced a damaging series of allegations relating to sex abuse by priests, and claims that these cases were covered up.

Pope Francis has just held an unprecedented summit on paedophilia in the Church.

bbc

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