Catholic Church

Cardinal George Pell's appeal against sexual abuse convictions fails

Cardinal George Pell arrives at Melbourne County Court on February 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
Cardinal George Pell arrives at Melbourne County Court on Feb. 27 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer and most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of child sexual abuse, lost his appeal against the charges in a 2-1 ruling in Australia Wednesday.

The big picture: Pell was sentenced in March in Victoria's County Court in Melbourne to 6 years in prison for sexually abusing 2 choirboys in the late 1990s. His spokeswoman said in a statement Pell was considering appealing to the highest court, per AP.

What they're saying: The Vatican said in a statement it acknowledged the court’s decision. "[T]he Cardinal has always maintained his innocence," it said. It added it confirmed its commitment to pursue "members of the clergy who commit such abuse."

Go deeper: The stunning scale of the global Catholic sex abuse crisis

New York opens yearlong window for victims to file past abuse claims

Man holding sign denouncing catholic church
An activist with sign denouncing the Catholic Church's alleged lack of response to the abuse of children by clergy. Photo: Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

More than 400 child sexual abuse lawsuits were filed in New York Wednesday, as the state started accepting cases previously barred by the statute of limitations, AP reports.

Why it matters: Institutions that have long cared for children, like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, public school districts and hospitals, are girding for what could be a devastating financial blow. All such institutions were named in lawsuits filed Wednesday. A similar law, passed in California in 2002, resulted in Catholic dioceses there paying $1.2 billion in legal settlements.