Court allows appeal

Court allows appeal

Australia's Supreme Court has accepted Cardinal George Pell's appeal against his conviction as a sex offender. The hearing is not expected to take place until 2020, the court said.

Allowance of appeal gives Cardinal Pell, in failing health, one last legal chance to challenge his child abuse conviction. Pell was not present in person in the Canberra courtroom when the decision was announced, according to media reports, nor was he joined by video.

Accusation of sexual abuse of choir boys

The 78-year-old is serving a six-year prison sentence. A jury had found him guilty of sexually abusing one choirboy and molesting another while serving as Melbourne's archbishop in the mid-1990s. Another legal complaint is pending.

Pell is the former prefect of the Vatican's economic secretariat, making him a sort of "pope's finance minister". He is the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman to be convicted of sexual abuse to date.

Coleridge: difficult trial

In an initial reaction from the Australian Bishops' Conference, its president, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, said the decision would prolong what has been a long and difficult process: "But we can only hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as possible and that the judgment will bring clarity and resolution for all".

Pell was sentenced on 8. Born in Ballarat in the Australian state of Victoria on June 1941 and ordained a priest at the age of 25. With the clerical career, he decided against a possible career as a rugby player. His further studies in Rome and Oxford led him to a doctorate in church history.

Pell's pithy conservative statements

After several stints in pastoral ministry and academia, Pope John Paul II appointed him in 1987. (1978-2005) to auxiliary bishop and, in 1996, archbishop of Melbourne. In 2001, Pell was promoted again – to Sydney, the capital of Australian libertinism. From here, he repeatedly spoke out with pithy conservative statements on topics such as homosexuality, bioethics and the environment.

He entered the world church limelight as host of the World Youth Day in Sydney 2008. In February 2014, Pope Francis made him head of the newly established Vatican Secretariat for the Economy. Due to the abuse allegations, however, the cardinal had already been on leave as head of finance since June 2017.

Close advisor to Pope Benedict XVI.

As a member of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1990-2000), Pell was one of the closest advisors to the then prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI. (2005-2013). Among the candidates for his successor in the office of prefect, his name was mentioned in 2005.

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Christina Cherry
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