George Pell will be a registered sex offender for life.
Last month, the Vatican described Pell's conviction as "painful news" that had "shocked many", and said he was prohibited from public ministry.
George Pell maintains his innocence, and a two-day appeal hearing against his convictions has been set down for the start of June.
"The sentences are never long enough but the victims have been heard ... he has been given a sentence, the courts have prevailed".
Pell was found guilty of five charges: one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four of indecent acts with a child, each carry a 10-year maximum jail sentence.
"I think you did give thought or reflection to this offending and only reasonable inference from the brazenness of your reoffending is that you had a degree of confidence that the victims would not complain either immediately", Kidd said during sentencing, which was broadcast throughout Australia live from a Melbourne country court.
The lawyer told Judge Kidd that behind bars, Pell would be considered a "lightning rod" for the sins of the Catholic Church.
The surviving victim said everything was overshadowed by Pell's upcoming appeal.
He will eligable for parole in three years and eight months.
Pell also abused his position by breaching the trust of his victims.
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"I am required to sentence you today in accordance with the rule of law ... independent of any outside influences", Kidd said.
Abuse survivors were among those who travelled to Melbourne on Wednesday to witness Pell's sentencing before a packed courtroom.
Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter, has argued for a light sentence, based on Pell's age, heart problems, no prior history of offending, no physical injuries to the victims and the fact the duration of the offences was short.
The sentence "makes a mockery of the concept of true accountability and is not a sentence commensurate with the crimes committed and the harm reaped", Blue Knot Foundation president Cathy Kezelman said in a statement.
Pell, who once helped elect popes and ran the Vatican's finances, was convicted in December of molesting two choirboys at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in the 1990s.
One of the two victims died in an accident in 2014, while the other, now in his 30s, brought the allegations to police after years of struggling to understand what he had experienced as a child.
Judge Kidd added that Pell should not "be made a scapegoat" for wider failings within the Catholic Church.
The first choirboy told how he was forced to perform oral sex on the cardinal, who at the time was Archbishop of Melbourne and a revered figure within the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse in February by calling for an "all-out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the earth".
If defrocked, Pell would be the highest profile figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times and only the second Roman Catholic prelate to lose the title of cardinal in almost 100 years.
The Cardinal will be placed on the child sexual offender registry for the rest of his life.