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In his sentencing remarks, Chief Judge Kidd described Pell's offending as "breathtakingly arrogant".

Abuse survivors and the Catholic faithful have converged at St Patrick's Cathedral, where Cardinal George Pell abused two choirboys, to digest news of the six-year prison sentence handed down this morning.

Sentencing Pell on Wednesday, Victorian County Court Judge Peter Kidd labelled the cardinal's moral culpability as high as he outlined his two attacks on the boys over a month apart.

Pope Francis' former finance minister was convicted in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and the boy's 13-year-old friend in the late 1990s.

Pell abused the 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury ruled last year.

Pell was convicted in December, but the verdict was suppressed from being made public in Australia by a court order until February 26 when further child sex offence charges against Pell dating back to the 1970s were dropped.

"Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so".

"The sentences are never long enough but the victims have been heard ... he has been given a sentence, the courts have prevailed".

As he delivered the hugely-anticipated verdict, Chief Judge Peter Kidd said that he chose to "impose a shorter non-parole period" than he would have done otherwise while taking into account Pell's age of 77. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal", he said in a statement read by his lawyer.

He will eligable for parole in three years and eight months.

Chief Judge Kidd during the sentencing hearing.

Almost 100 people lined up outside the doors of the courtroom this morning, including media from around the world and protesters.

The other boy, who never filed a complaint against Pell, had died in 2014 from a heroin overdose.

"None of it seems to fit the crime", she said.

"I think the Catholic Church is shuffling it under the carpet and it makes me sick that I pay school fees to a Catholic system and then some of that money goes to the Catholic Church".

But the judge said Pell was "not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church".

Though not shortening his sentence, Judge Kidd said he did impose a shorter non-parole period "in recognition in particular of your age, so as to increase the prospect of your living out the last part of your life in the community".

Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse in February by calling for an "all-out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the earth".

How will Pell appeal the verdict?

The cardinal's crimes have drawn widespread condemnation, though he has retained the support of some high-profile figures in Australia.

He took into account Pell's age and that there was no risk of re-offending.

The sexual abuse of children was rarely discussed in public before the 1970s, and it was not until the 1980s that the first cases of molestation by priests came to light, in the United States and Canada.