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Push To Strip George Pell Of Order Of Australia Medal

In the wake of the George Pell guilty verdict, there have been calls to strip him of numerous honours and awards.

Pell, 77, is the most senior official in the Catholic Church ever to be convicted of a sexual offense, after his conviction for abusing two choirboys in the 1990s.

There are now calls to strip him of a range of honours. Foremost among these is Australia’s highest civilian award, the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), which Pell was awarded in 2005.

Pell's citation for his award read as follows:

"For service to the Catholic Church in Australia and internationally, to raising debate on matters of an ethical and spiritual nature, to education, and to social justice."

There is now a change.org petition to strip him of the award.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also understood to be considering how to act on the issue, and is said to be waiting until the appeal process has played out before he decides what to do.

Order of Australia awards can be rescinded through a process involving the Governor General. The details of how that works are here.

The most relevant sections of the Terminations and Cancellations Ordinance are this:

(1) The Governor-General may terminate an appointment, or cancel an award, if a conviction for a crime or offence under:

(a) a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory; or

(b) a law of a foreign country;

has been recorded in relation to the holder of the appointment or award.

And also this:

(4) The Governor-General may terminate an appointment, or cancel an award, if, in the opinion of the Governor-General, the holder of the appointment or award has behaved or acted in a manner that has brought disrepute on the Order.

Numerous Australians have lost their Order of Australia awards in the past.

Perhaps the most high profile was the former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld, who was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to perjury.

Einfeld lied about having not been the driver of a car -- falsely claiming a friend was behind the wheel -- when he incurred a $77 speeding ticket for driving 10 km/h over the limit.

The incident cost him his good reputation, his Order of Australia medal, as well as numerous other honours.