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Australian Cardinal George Pell, 77, a former leading Vatican official who last month was convicted of sexually abusing two boys, has been sentenced to six years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after three years and eight months.

During the sentencing hearing, Victoria state County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd acknowledged the disgraced cleric may not live to serve the full sentence.

"I am conscious that the term of imprisonment, which I am about to impose upon you, carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison," Kidd said to Pell.

The prospect of facing jail at Pell's advanced age "must be an awful state of affairs," Kidd added.

Cardinal George Pell, seen earlier this month, has been sentenced to six years in prison by a Melbourne, Australia, court for the sexual abuse of two children more than 20 years ago. Andy Brownbill/AP

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