The top Catholic was convicted in December, but the verdict was suppressed from being made public by a court order until February 26, when further child sex offence charges against Pell dating back to the 1970s were dropped.
"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance ..."
The hearings in the Court of Appeal are scheduled to be heard on June 5 and 6.
The cardinal, a household name in Australia with friends that include prime ministers and business magnates, maintains his innocence and will appeal.
Pell was found guilty of cornering the two boys, who were on scholarships to the prestigious St Kevin's College, in the sacristy after Sunday mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in December 1996, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
The father of one of Pell's victims who died of a heroin overdose in 2014 at the age of 31 paid tribute to his son's childhood friend for speaking out.
"It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment", the victim, who has not been identified, said through his lawyer Vivian Waller.
But he did describe Pell's offending as sustained, with multiple sexual acts carried out amid "callous indifference" to the boys. He faced a total of 10 years in prison for each of those charges.
"We have witnessed, outside of this court and within our community, examples of a witch-hunt or a lynch mob mentality in relation to you, Cardinal Pell".
She said Pell had always seemed untouchable.
The judge started the proceedings by saying Pell was on trial and not the Catholic Church.More news: Daylight Saving Time: Don't forget to spring forward this weekend
"I am required to sentence you today in accordance with the rule of law ... independent of any outside influences", Kidd said.
Pell sat emotionless and unflinching as the sentence was handed out.
The surviving victim said everything was overshadowed by Pell's upcoming appeal.
The Vatican has said that it will...
The cardinal's crimes have drawn widespread condemnation, though he has retained the support of some high-profile figures in Australia.
The judge also took pains to note that he was sentencing Pell for the offenses on which the cardinal had been convicted - and not for the sins of the Catholic Church.
"The acts were sexually graphic". Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending.
The BBC reports that Pell can apply for parole after three years and eight months.
The judge took into account the victims' emotional wellbeing and impact on their relationships, culminating in an "immediate" and "profound impact" on their lives.
"I am conscious that the term of imprisonment which I am about to impose upon you carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison".
In an unusual step the sentencing is being broadcast.
Lawyer Anna Swain, who works at a legal advice service for sexual abuse survivors, said there had been an influx of calls from people in the wake of Pell's conviction.