In Catholic understanding, Jesus gave his disciples the power to forgive sins.
Following the sexual abuse scandals, there is a push to force the Catholic Church to compromise the confidentiality of the confessional. A Catholic scholar explains why confession is so important.
Pell was found guilty in December on five charges of child sexual assault.
The Catholic Church has previously expelled perpetrators of child sexual abuse from the priesthood following internal investigations – known as canonical trials.
Cardinal Pell is the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged with child sex abuse.
AP Photo/Andy Brownbill
While Pope Francis has publicly acknowledged sexual abuse by clergy, the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church still makes it difficult to report and address cases of abuse.
Members of Chile’s bishops conference, in May 2018, who say they are open to whatever Pope Francis proposes to overhaul the Chilean church devastated by a clergy sex abuse and cover-up scandal.
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Pope Francis has been accused of a cover-up in the sex abuse scandal involving Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop. Experts explain why it's hard for the Catholic Church to hold clergy accountable.
Archbishop of Granada Francisco Javier Martinez and priests prostrate in front of the altar to seek pardon for sexual abuse in the Church at the cathedral in Granada, southern Spain, Nov. 23, 2014.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church requires nearly absolute obedience. This makes it difficult to speak up against superiors. And by the same token, superiors too can protect offending priests.