The former prime minister admitted to phoning George Pell the day his conviction was made public.
Mr Abbott, who previously called Pell a ‘fine man’ told 2GB’s Ben Fordham the verdict was a ‘devastating result’ and referred to Pell’s upcoming appeal.
‘He’s been found guilty by a court of a horrible crime, an absolutely horrible crime. It is going on appeal and let’s see what the appeal court ultimately decides,’ Mr Abbott said.
‘But I absolutely accept that this is a shocking result, a devastating result. But it is subject to appeal.’
The Liberal party member admitted to be a friend of Pell’s and would not answer whether he would still consider Pell a friend if an appeal failed.
Mr Howard provided a glowing character reference for the Cardinal as part of a binder of documents lawyer Robert Richter QC submitted to the court on Wednesday.
Mr Howard, the second-longest serving Prime Minister of Australia, came to power in 1996, the same year Pell committed his crimes.
‘Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character,’ the letter said.
‘Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality.’
Mr Howard wrote that Pell held himself to his value and beliefs and displayed courage.
‘It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church,’ Mr Howard wrote.
Conservative radio broadcaster Ray Hadley has slammed the two former Liberal prime ministers for standing by Cardinal George Pell despite a jury finding he had sexually assaulted two teenage choirboys in the 1990s.
Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt said he ‘just can’t accept’ Pell’s conviction in a opinion piece aired on Sky News on Tuesday night. He then backed up his opinion again in a number of opinion pieces published in the Herald Sun.
‘I just can’t accept it, based on what I consider is the overwhelming evidence of this trial,’ Bolt said on Sky News.
‘Pell it seems to me could well be a man who’s been made to pay for the sins made by his church.’
Bolt said he based his opinion on ‘how many times George Pell has been accused of crimes and sins he clearly did not do’.
He also recalled when he previously interviewed Pell and said his demeanour and attitude did not fit the description of a child abuser.
‘The man I know, seems not just incapable of this abuse, [he’s] so intelligent and cautious, it seems unbelievable to me that he would risk his brilliant career and his name on such an assault on two children, in such a public place with an open door,’ he said.