Legal

Basmah Qazi

George Pell verdict: Pope Francis reacts to Victorian Court’s decision

George Pell verdict: Pope Francis reacts to Victorian Court’s decision

Pope Francis has tweeted an indirect statement following the Victorian Supreme Court’s decision to uphold George Pell’s child sex abuse conviction as the Vatican decides whether to hold a canonical trial of its own.

Taking to Twitter, the Pope said: “It takes more strength to repair than to build, to start anew than to begin, to be reconciled than to get along. This is the strength that God gives us.”

This isn’t the first jab he’s taken at Cardinal Pell, as during his weekly address on Wednesday, he spoke of hypocrisy being the “worst enemy” of the Christian community.

“A life based only on making a profit and taking advantage of situations to the detriment of others inevitably causes inner death,” he said.

“How many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops while only seeking their own interests? These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church.”

Once the third-most senior Catholic in the Vatican, Cardinal Pell looked after the ancient institution’s finances. He was also known to share a close bond with the Pope, who has previously introduced measures to prevent sexual abuse in the church.

On Tuesday, the 78-year-old’s appeal was dismissed in the Victorian Supreme Court, sealing his fate as he prepares to send the next six years in prison. He will be eligible for parole three years and eight months into the sentence.

After the decision was announced, the Vatican released a statement of their own, emphasising on its “respect for the Australian judicial system”, but added that Pell had always maintained his innocence and had the right to appeal to the High Court.

“At this time, together with the Church of Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, though the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse,” it said.