George Pell: What happens to the disgraced cardinal now

Pell is led away to begin his sentence. Image AP

If the sentence stands, Pell will be a registered sex offender for life.

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell on Wednesday was sentenced to six years in an Australian prison for child sex crimes.

Pope Francis' former finance minister was convicted in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and the boy's 13-year-old friend in the late 1990s.

Normal procedure will now see Pell transferred back to the Metropolitan Assessment Prison in West Melbourne, where the former Vatican treasurer has spent the last two weeks awaiting sentence.

Reporting of the trial and verdict was suppressed by the court to avoid prejudicing a second trial, which crown prosecutors abandoned in February after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn't be submitted.

"Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so".

Asked by a reporter outside court after the sentencing whether the case against Pell amounted to a witch hunt, his lawyer Robert Richter gave a rueful smile.

Pope Francis is marking his sixth anniversary as pontiff with prayer, attending a weeklong spiritual retreat while elsewhere in the world one of his cardinals is sentenced for sex abuse and a new poll finds American Catholics are increasingly questioning their faith because of the scandal.

The victim's statement - who is now in his 30s - was not read out but the judge said he had taken into account the "profound impact" it has had on his life.

The Chief Judge told the 77-year-old cleric he could die behind bars.

The surviving victim said everything was overshadowed by Pell's upcoming appeal.

A member of the public reacts to Pell's sentence. Image AP
A member of the public reacts to Pell's sentence. Image AP

Pell must serve a minimum of three years and eight months, but not everyone is convinced justice has been done.

The court said Kidd's sentencing would be aired live by the Australian Broadcasting Corp at 10 a.m. (2300 GMT) on Wednesday.

A crowd of around 150 people packed inside Melbourne's County Court 3.3 including victim support groups and Pell supporters with dozens more media and protesters with signs outside court.

Another Catholic man, Andrew, said he hoped Pell would never leave prison.

Kidd said as archbishop Pell would have "cast a powerful shadow" and thought he could control the situation if caught.

During his trial, Pell's own lawyer described the burly 1.9 metres tall cardinal as the "Darth Vader" of the Catholic Church.

Pell suffers from what Judge Kidd described as "significant enough" health issues, including hypertension, congestive heart failure - he has a pacemaker - and osteoarthritis in both knees.

Statistics released in 2017 by Australia's Royal Commission into Responses to Institutional Child Sex Abuse stated that 7% of all Catholic priests in the country had abused children over the past six decades.

Worshipper Darryl D'Souza said Pell's conviction and sentencing was a sad situation for Catholics, but it did not change his belief in God or the church.

Judge Kidd added that Pell should not "be made a scapegoat" for wider failings within the Catholic Church.

Sonia has written a book, titled The Girl in the Locker, about their time at the orphanages in which she detailed the horrific sexual abuse, sexual slavery and physical violence they endured as young girls.

Venezuela's Adversaries Seek to Show Resolve in Crisis
He called for "anti-imperialist" demonstrations across the country on Saturday, coinciding with marches called by Guaido. Let the insane minority continue with their bitterness, we'll defeat them. "That's never stopped us", Guaido said.

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