22:23 GMT02 April 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - An Australian court on Tuesday lifted a suppression order on the case of Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican finance chief, who was convicted of child sexual abuse in December, The Times reported.

    According to The Times newspaper, Pell's conviction has been under a strict suppression order until Tuesday's hearing, when Peter Kidd, the Melbourne judge, announced that there was 'very strong ground' for convicting the cardinal guilty of child sex crimes.

    READ MORE: Time Has Come for Real Measures to Tackle Child Sexual Abuse by Clerics — Pope

    Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996 when he was appointed as Archbishop of Melbourne. The assaults were reported by one of the victims in 2015.

    The cardinal faces years in prison, but his lawyers said that Pell would appeal against the conviction, as he continued to reject all accusations.

    Pell, 78, was appointed as the Vatican treasurer by Pope Francis in 2014, while before that he served as the Archbishop of Sydney and of Melbourne and was Australia's most prominent Catholic leader. After being charged by Melbourne police in 2017, Pell came back to Australia and after sentencing, in December 2018 he was dismissed from his post in the Vatican and expelled from the Pope's circle of most trusted cardinals.

    READ MORE: ‘Children of the Ordained': Vatican Has Secret Rules For Priests With Children

    The Pell case is a part of the Vatican's large campaign to investigate and resolve the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Earlier, the Vatican held a historic summit on clerical sex abuse. Pope Francis called those who abused children "tools of Satan" and vowed to protect children from "ravenous wolves".

    One of the first major scandals stemmed from a French-Belgian film directed by François Ozon called 'By the Grace of God' that was released in February 2018. The film’s story exposed French priest Bernard Preyanat and accused him of abusing dozens of minors. The film prompted the authorities of France and the Vatican to conduct a joint investigation of the case. In February 2019 'By the Grace of God' won the Jury Grand Prix at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival.


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    Catholic Church, cardinal, sex crime, child abuse, The Times, George Pell, Australia, Europe, Vatican
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