Pell sat emotionless and looking visibly thinner through more than an hour-long sentence hearing where the judge noted he would spend a "substantial portion" of his remaining life expectancy behind bars.
Former Victorian chief magistrate Nick Papas QC said media reporting of sentences could be simplistic, and live broadcasts meant the public could understand all factors.
After centuries of impunity, cardinals from Australia to Chile and points in between are facing justice in both the Vatican and government courts for their own sexual misdeeds or for having shielded abusers under their watch.
Pell abused the 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury ruled last year.
Pell's lawyers also released a statement on his behalf.
"He was distant, he was very uncomfortable, he treated me with contempt, and he didn't want to know", she said.
The following article discusses child sexual abuse.
Howard said he was aware of Pell's conviction and pending appeal but that "none of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal".
His conviction has rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope's closest advisers. And so is the archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was recently sentenced to six months' probation for failing to report allegations of assault.
As others have done, Müller said that the circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse undermined the plaintiffs' case, since the incident was purported to have taken place in a public place - the archbishop's sacristy - following a well-attended Sunday Mass.
Security has been of ongoing concern throughout his time in the Melbourne Assessment Prison with Pell housed in the high security level of this prison.
His downfall brings to the heart of the papal administration a scandal over clerical abuse that has ravaged the Church's credibility in the United States, Chile, Australia and elsewhere over the last three decades.
The judge started the proceedings by saying Pell was on trial and not the Catholic Church. The full details of those allegations were suppressed by court orders.
The County Court of Victoria had come under fire for suppressing coverage of Pell's trial, as he is seen as the face of the Catholic Church in Australia which has protected pedophile priests.
Pell's legal team has previously announced it will appeal his conviction on three grounds, including that the jury's verdict on all five charges was unreasonable, based on the evidence submitted. Pell also said the Church made "catastrophic" choices by minimizing its response to, and covering up, abuse complaints.
"To offend in such a risky and brazen manner, I infer that, for whatever reason, you were in fact prepared to take on such risks. I do so without hesitation", Kidd said, noting that Pell was a figure of authority.
He accused Pell of "callous indifference" to the suffering of the boys, who have not been named.
Pell did not seek to silence the children, Kidd said, because he did not feel it was necessary, and his second transgression carried the mark of "physical aggression and venom".