Archbishop Anthony Fisher, who succeeded Pell as leader of the Sydney archdiocese said he was "limited in my ability to comment on today's outcome," since Pell could still lodge a further appeal.
"Today's split decision amongst the judges is consistent with the differing views of the juries in the first and second trials, as well as the divided opinion amongst legal commentators and the general public," Fisher said in a statement.
"Reasonable people have taken different views when presented with the same evidence and I urge everyone to maintain calm and civility."
Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli of Melbourne, another of Pell's former dioceses, said in a statement that he "respectfully receives the Court's decision," and that he "encourages everyone to do the same."
Comensoli remarked that "the complexity of the search for the truth in this matter has tested many, and may very well continue to do so."
The archbishop said that he was praying for the man who accused Pell of sexual abuse, and that he would offer spiritual and pastoral help to him if he so wanted it. Notably, Comensoli declined to use the word "victim" or "survivor" to describe the man.
Additionally, Comensoli said that he will "ensure that Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence" of six years in prison.
The Vatican issued a cautious statement "acknowledging" the decision.
"While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system... the Holy See acknowledges the court's decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell's appeal," Matteo Bruni, Holy See press office director, said Aug. 21.
Bruni stated that "as the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court." A canonical process to assess the accusations against Pell has formally been opened, but remains pending until the entire criminal process in Australia concludes.
As a body, the Catholic bishops of Australia offered a similarly carefully worded response to the news.
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The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), which represents all of the country's bishops and archbishops, said that while they accepted the judgment, they "acknowledge that this judgement will be distressing to many people."
"The Catholic Bishops of Australia believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today's judgement accordingly," said the statement from Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, the ACBC president.
Coleridge noted that "this has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them," and that the Australian clergy has caused much pain in the country.
"We remain committed to doing everything we can to bring healing to those who have suffered greatly and to ensuring that Catholic settings are the safest possible places for all people, but especially for children and vulnerable adults," he said.
Retired Bishop Peter Elliott, a former auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, pointedly rejected the outcome.
"I don't accept this outcome because I hope it is appealed to a higher court," he said to the Australian news program 7.30 after the appeal was denied. Elliott has known Pell for over 50 years.