Brazen, opportunistic, callous: George Pell sentenced to six years in jail for sexually abusing choir boys

Disgraced cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to spend a maximum of six years in prison for sexually abusing two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

Pell, 77, was emotionless when the sentence was handed down on Wednesday.

He must serve at least three years and eight months in prison before being eligible for release on parole.

A jury convicted him in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996 and 1997, finding him guilty of five charges.

County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd handed down his sentence in front of a packed courtroom and a global television audience streaming across the globe.

Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic to be convicted and jailed for child sexual abuse.

He will be a registered sex offender for life.

Pell denies all allegations of wrongdoing and has launched an appeal to the convictions.