Australia's highest court to give Cardinal Pell chance to have sex abuse convictions overturned

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's highest court agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal from the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of sexually abusing children, giving Cardinal George Pell his last chance at getting his convictions overturned.

The decision by the High Court of Australia comes nearly a year after a unanimous jury found Pope Francis' former finance minister guilty of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne's St. Patrick's Cathedral in the late 1990s, shortly after Pell became archbishop of Australia's second-largest city.

The 78-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison in March and is no longer a member of Francis' Council of Cardinals or a Vatican official. The Victoria state Court of Appeal rejected his appeal in August.

Pell is in a Melbourne prison, where a newspaper reported last month that he had been given a gardening job. He did not attend the High Court in Canberra to hear the decision Wednesday.

SNAP, an abuse victims' support group, described the court's decision as a blow to clergy abuse victims and to the Australian criminal justice system.

"We are disappointed that Cardinal George Pell and his lawyers will have yet another opportunity to attack and re-victimize the former choirboy," SNAP spoke...

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