Update: For all my coverage of this story, also see the posts on May 2, 2018, Dec. 14, 2018, and Mar. 13, 2019, and Aug. 21, 2019.
Back in December, I wrote about reports that Cardinal George Pell had been found guilty by an Australian court on charges that he sexually abused two boys in Melbourne in the 1990's. This made him the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be convicted.
Reporting on the story in December was a bit sparse, and now we know why. A gag order was in place, because Pell was due to face a second trial this year on charges related to alleged abuse he carried out in the 1970's in Ballarat. That second trial has now been cancelled and the charges dropped. With that, the gag order has been overturned.
The story in Melbourne involves two 13-year-old altar boys. On a Sunday in December 1996, after leading Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Pell found the two choirboys drinking sacramental wine in a changing room.
Pell allegedly exposed himself and grabbed the boys. He placed his penis in the mouth of one of the boys. Pell then masturbated while fondling the genitals of the other boy.
In February of 1997, one of the victims told the court that Pell pushed him against a wall in the cathedral and grabbed his genitals.
That victim who testified is the only surviving victim. The other victim died several years ago of a heroin overdose.
The fact that one of the victims became addicted to heroin and died because of his addiction only magnifies what is already a tragic story.
In December, Pell was convicted on five charges. The Vatican had already released a statement that said the 77-year-old Pell had been removed from the Council of Cardinals back in October.
Pell moved to the Vatican in 2014 when Pope Francis appointed him to serve in the new-at-the-time Secretariat for the Economy. Serving in that role essentially made him the third-in-command at the Vatican. Earlier in his career with the church he served as archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney.
Last week, the Vatican held a four-day summit with 200 leaders of the church to address their ongoing sexual abuse crisis. Leaders of the church described the summit as a step in a long process to solve the problem.
Meanwhile, while the leaders of the church continue to drag their feet, the secular world is doing something by convicting Pell for his horrible crimes.