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The Holy See issued a statement in response to the guilty verdict of Cardinal George Pell and the appeal of his conviction.

Last December, Cardinal Pell was convicted by an Australian civil court on five counts of child sex abuse. However, because of a sweeping gag order imposed by the judge, the results of that trial were not widely reported until the media restriction was lifted on the 26th.

A statement given by acting Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisottia acknowledged the “painful” news which has “shocked many people.”

“As already expressed on other occasions, we have the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities.”

The Holy See will now wait for the outcome of the appeals process. In the meantime, Cardinal Pell will remain barred from public ministry and from contact with minors.

“Out of this respect, we await the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal.”

Gisotti also confirmed that Cardinal Pell was no longer the Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy. He did not resign, however, his term lapsed on the 24th and it was not renewed.

Cardinal Pell is expected to be sentenced this Wednesday, and will immediately appeal the conviction. You can read the full statement from the Holy See below:

“The Holy See agrees with the statement issued by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference regarding the sentence of guilt in the first instance concerning Cardinal George Pell. This is painful news that, as we are well aware, has shocked many people, not only in Australia. As already expressed on other occasions, we have the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities. Out of this respect, we await the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal. While awaiting the definitive judgment, we unite ourselves with the Australian bishops in praying for all victims of abuse, and reaffirm our commitment to do everything possible so that the Church might be a safe home for all, especially for children and the most vulnerable. In order to ensure the course of justice, the Holy Father has confirmed the precautionary measures which had been imposed by the local Ordinary on Cardinal George Pell when he returned to Australia. That is, while awaiting the definitive assessment of the facts, as is the norm, Cardinal George Pell is prohibited from exercising public ministry and from having any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.”

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