Former PM John Howard gives character reference for Catholic child abuser George Pell

Photo: Rob Blakers / Pool /Getty Images.

Australia’s former prime minister, John Howard, has provided a positive character reference for disgraced Catholic cardinal George Pell, who has been convicted of multiple counts of child sex abuse.

According to a number of Australian journalists who attended the pre-sentence hearing of Pell at Victoria’s County Court on Wednesday, Howard submitted a character reference after Pell’s conviction.

Pell was convicted in December of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choir boys in 1996 and 1997 at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. His identity was not reported until Tuesday in Australia due to a suppression order.

Pell is the highest ranking Catholic official to be convicted of child sex abuse and until recently, was part of Pope Francis’ inner circle. He has appealed the conviction but is expected to be sentenced next week.

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