Pell was Australia's most senior Catholic as the Vatican's treasurer - the third highest ranking member of the Church - between February 2014 and when he was stood down by Pope Francis in August previous year.
Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Australia.
News of his conviction had been under a suppression order, which was lifted when a planned second trial on separate matters was dropped.
The chief judge said Pell's abuse had had a "significant and long-lasting impact" on the wellbeing of one of his victims, whom he referred to as J.
But the judge said Pell was "not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church".
"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance", Kidd said, as cited by the Guardian.
His legal team is appealing on the grounds that the jury's verdict was unreasonable, that Pell was not arraigned in the presence of the jury panel, and that the defence was prevented from showing the jury a visual presentation - described as similar to a "Pac Man" video game - depicting the movement of priests in the cathedral on the day of the choirboys' abuse.
The first choirboy told how he was forced to perform oral sex on the cardinal, who at the time was Archbishop of Melbourne and a revered figure within the Catholic Church.
A member of the public reacts to Pell's sentence. Image AP
The assaults happened just months after Pell became archbishop of Melbourne.
Pell sat in the back of the courtroom, surrounded by security officers but uncuffed, as Judge Kidd delivered a detailed explanation of the crimes the cardinal had committed and the reasons for the sentence.
Each charge carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.
However, the judge also noted positive character witnesses including from former Prime Minister John Howard, of an "otherwise blameless life" and Pell's "exceptional career within the Church".
Pell, 77, maintains his innocence and intends to challenge the conviction in the Court of Appeal, which will be heard in June.
Cathy Kezelman from the trauma recovery-focused Blue Knot Foundation says the sentence represents the personal struggle for justice of many other abuse survivors and the outcome is likely to be emotional and polarising.
Kidd stressed that by punishing Pell he does not seek to punish the whole Catholic Church, that has been rattled by the widespread allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
Pell will be registered as a sex offender for life, he said.
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