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Cardinal George Pell © Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Even a day after Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in prison for sexual abuse, Australia's Catholic Bishops Conference won't comment on the sentence.

"At this point, there is no statement on this," press spokesman Gavin Abraham said Thursday in response to a request from the Catholic News Agency (KNA). Meanwhile, Australian media sharply criticized both Pell and the Catholic Church the day after the verdict was handed down. Already the revelations of the state abuse commission about the extent of abuse in the church had shocked and outraged many Australians, wrote the liberal "Sydney Morning Herald".

"Now there is anger, but it's not just about Pell," the commentary continued. "He is emblematic of the rage against the church, it's true. But it is also emblematic of anger at powerful people abusing power, acting hypocritically, telling the rest of society what to do, and sticking together when things go wrong."Pell represents a culture of secrecy and cover-up in the church, it said. "His life as a Christian has been shown to be a lie."

Six years in prison for Pell

The conservative news portal of the Murdoch media empire strikes a similar tone with an article about Pell's dealings with a family affected by abuse. In the article, the author writes that Pell lied to the public. In an interview with TV station Nine Network's political magazine "60 Minutes," Pell had said the Christie couple never showed him photos of their daughter with her wrists slashed. Ten years later, however, Pell admitted to an inquiry committee of the parliament of the Australian state of Victoria that he had seen the photo.

A court had set a six-year prison sentence for the 77-year-old cardinal on Wednesday. He had been found guilty by a jury in December of abusing a 13-year-old boy in the vestry of Melbourne Cathedral and molesting another while he was archbishop in 1996. Clergyman maintains his innocence. His defenders announced appeal.

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Christina Cherry
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