George Pell's Australian honours in doubt

George Pell could be stripped of his Order of Australia received from the Governor-General in 2005.
George Pell could be stripped of his Order of Australia received from the Governor-General in 2005.

Cardinal George Pell is likely to be stripped of his Australian honours after losing an appeal against his child sex abuse conviction.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his sympathies lay with the victims of child sexual abuse, not just today but "on every single day".

"My understanding is that this (appeal loss) would result in the stripping of the honours that are decided externally to the government," Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.

"That is a process that is done independently, and that course will now follow."

Governor-General David Hurley will wait until all legal proceedings - including a possible High Court challenge - have run their course before making a final decision.

"Appointments to the Order of Australia may be terminated and one of the grounds is conviction for a crime or offence under a law of the commonwealth, state or territory," he said in a statement after the prime minister's media conference.

"Once all legal proceedings have run their course, the Council for the Order of Australia may make a recommendation to me as Chancellor of the Order, which I will act on."

Mr Morrison urged all Australians who find themselves reliving their abuse as a result of the public attention given to the Pell case to "reach out to those around them, to reach out to the services that are there for them".

"The courts have done their job. They've rendered their verdict," the prime minister said.

"That's the system of justice in this country and that must be respected."

In 2005 Pell received the Order of Australia for his service to the Catholic Church domestically and internationally, and for raising debate on matters of an ethical and spiritual nature, education and social justice.

Pell received the award at a ceremony in Canberra by then-governor-general Michael Jeffery.

Australian Associated Press