SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: How a Vatican portrait of child sex abuser Cardinal Pell links him to an ancient Catholic order frequented by British high society | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: How a Vatican portrait of child sex abuser Cardinal Pell links him to an ancient Catholic order frequented by British high society

It has suddenly become the most embarrassing painting in the Vatican. But the portrait of Cardinal Pell — unveiled in the Vatican just two and a half years ago — now threatens to engulf one of the oldest and grandest Catholic orders in controversy.

For I can disclose that the portrait of 77-year-old Pell, who has just been convicted of historic sex offences, was commissioned following a fundraising event in London held by the Knights of Malta, the Roman Catholic order founded more than 1,000 years ago to care for the poor and the sick.

The order’s senior officers have included some of the most eminent figures in society, including Field Marshal Lord Guthrie and the late Hugh van Cutsem, one of the Prince of Wales’s close friends.

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