Pope Francis, speaking just a few hours after Australia's highest court acquitted Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse, on Tuesday (April 7) offered his morning Mass for those who suffer today from what he calls, quote, "unjust sentences." The court quashed convictions that Pell sexually assaulted two choir boys in the 1990s and allowed the former Vatican economy minister to walk free from jail.
Pell had been the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be charged with abuse and now cannot face the same charges again.
The timely subject chosen by Francis for his daily morning Mass did not mention Pell by name, but broke from recent weeks of regular prayers for those around the world currently suffering with illness.
(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS SAYING: "We have seen the persecution that Jesus has suffered and how the doctors of the law persecuted him.
He was judged with obstinacy and rage, even though he was innocent.
I would like to pray today for all those people who suffer unjust sentences resulting from intransigence (against them)." The Vatican had no immediate comment on the Pell verdict, which comes during the Holy Week in the run up to Easter.
Given the fact that Pell is now 78, he is not expected to return to a role back with the Vatican.