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Vatican says cardinal’s abuse convictions are ‘painful’ and shocking

However, a Holy See spokesman said George Pell was still proclaiming his innocence and pursuing legal avenues.

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Cardinal George Pell (Andy Brownbill/AP)

Cardinal George Pell (Andy Brownbill/AP)

Cardinal George Pell (Andy Brownbill/AP)

The “painful” news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for molesting choirboys in Australia has shocked many people, a Vatican spokesman has said.

However, Alessandro Gisotti said the prelate “has reiterated his innocence and has the right to defend himself” until the last level of justice.

Acting Holy See spokesman Mr Gisotti read a statement to reporters at the Vatican but did not take questions.

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St Peter’s Square in Rome looking towards the Vatican (Phil Noble/PA)

St Peter’s Square in Rome looking towards the Vatican (Phil Noble/PA)

St Peter’s Square in Rome looking towards the Vatican (Phil Noble/PA)

He said Pope Francis has confirmed “precautionary measures” already taken against Pell.

These include a ban on his saying Mass in public and “as is the rule, contact in any way or form with minors”.

The court verdict represented “painful news that, we are well aware, has shocked very many people, not only in Australia”, Mr Gisotti said.

“As we have affirmed on other occasions, we restate the utmost respect for Australian judiciary authorities,” he said.

“In the name of this respect, we now await the outcome of the appeals trial, recalling that Cardinal Pell has reiterated his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the final level” of Australia’s justice system, the spokesman said.

“While awaiting the definitive judgment, we unite ourselves to the Australian bishops in praying for all the victims of abuse, reiterating our commitment to do everything possible so that the church is a safe home for all, especially for children and the most vulnerable,” Mr Gisotti said.

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