AUSTRALIA: High Court Overturns Ev-Vatican Cardinal’s Molestation Conviction, Free After Year In Jail [VIDEO]

Reuters reports:

Australia’s highest court acquitted former Vatican treasurer George Pell on Tuesday of sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys in the 1990s, freeing the 78-year-old cardinal after 404 days in jail.

The High Court ordered Pell’s convictions be quashed and verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place, ending the most high profile case of alleged historical sex abuse to rock the Roman Catholic Church.

The seven judges of the High Court agreed unanimously that the jury in the cardinal’s trial “ought to have entertained a doubt” about his guilt. Pell, who has maintained his innocence throughout the lengthy court process, cannot be retried on the charges.

The Catholic News Agency reports:

Pope Francis prayed at Mass Tuesday for all those who have been persecuted by an unjust sentence, offering the prayer hours after Australia’s High Court overturned a child sex abuse conviction against Cardinal George Pell, releasing him from prison.

The pope did not mention Pell by name at the April 7 Mass in the chapel of his Vatican residence, the Casa Santa Marta, noting at the beginning the persecution Jesus suffered at the hands of the doctors of the law, who acted against him with aggressive persistence despite his innocence.

“I would like to pray today for all the people who suffer an unjust sentence because of aggressive persistence [against them],” Pope Francis said.