One of Pope Francis’s trusted Council of Cardinal Advisors, Cardinal George Pell, has been convicted in Australia on all charges he sexually abused two choir boys there in the late ’90s, according to two sources with knowledge of the case.
Pell, sometimes considered Pope Francis’s ‘right hand man’, has always denied the charges and will likely appeal the decision.
He has a long history of defending traditional marriage. In 1990, he said: “Homosexuality – we’re aware that it does exist. We believe such activity is wrong and we believe for the good of society it should not be encouraged.” In 2010, he advocated against Australia’s Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 saying, “Marriage is a union that is publicly recognised, honoured and supported because of its unique capacity to generate children and to meet children’s deepest needs for the love and attachment of both their father and their mother.”
Pell also penned a book of essays on the Church and the state called God and Ceasar, in which Christ’s instructions to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) remain the starting point for any reflections on Christianity and political life.
Pope Francis removed Pell from the Council as well as Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile, who has been accused of covering up abuse in his country.
In June, Francis granted a leave of absence to Cardinal Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses, so that he could defend himself in Australia. He has been facing charges on child sexual offenses in the County court of Victoria.
The pope also dismissed a third Cardinal, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the 79-year-old archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo for age-related reasons.