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Vatican Releases Statement On George Pell 'Acknowledging' Court Decision

The Vatican has released a statement acknowledging the court's decision in the George Pell case, but recalls that Pell has always maintained his innocence.

In a brief statement following the 2-1 decision to uphold Pell's conviction of sexually abusing two choirboys, the Vatican confirmed its "closeness to the victims of child sexual abuse" but did not offer an apology to Pell's victims.

It also did not condemn Pell, who is the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of child sex abuse.

"While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on 26 February after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal," the Vatican said.

George Pell arrives at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. Photo: AAP.

"As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.

READ MORE: George Pell Considers High Court After Child Sex Abuse Appeal Dismissed

"At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse."

On Wednesday, Pell lost an appeal in Melbourne against his sexual abuse charges, meaning he will remain in prison for at least another three years. Pell is now considering taking his case to the High Court.

Supporters of abuse victims are seen outside the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. Photo: AAP.Archbishop of Sydney Reverend Anthony Fisher urged for "calm and civility" following the court's decision, noting the split judgement "is consistent with the differing opinion amongst legal commentators and the general public".

READ MORE: George Pell Defenders Are A 'Third Layer Of Power' That Abuse Survivors Face

Outside court, survivors and activists cheered when Chief Justice Anne Ferguson handed down the judgement.

"We are so used to being let down, we are so used to receiving the raw end of the deal," abuse survivor Michael Advocate, using a pseudonym, told Studio 10.

"It's a tremendous result for victims."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au