the main points:
- Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81 in the Vatican City.
- Cardinal Pell was found guilty of child sexual abuse in 2018 while he was Archbishop of Melbourne.
- His conviction was later overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court in 2020.
This article contains references to child abuse.
Former Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Cardinal George Pell has died in the Vatican City at the age of 81.
The US-based EWTN Catholic News Service reported that Cardinal Pell suffered a cardiac arrest and died on Tuesday night after hip replacement surgery in Rome.
EWTN’s Vatican correspondent Colm Flynn said he confirmed Cardinal Pell died along with his family.
Cardinal Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic ever, was the Vatican’s chief finance minister before leaving in 2017 to stand trial in Australia for child abuse.
Shortly before his death, Cardinal Pell was among those who attended the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict last Thursday.
Cardinal Pell was found guilty in 2018 of molesting a teenage choirboy in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.
He has always maintained his innocence and his conviction was overturned by a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2020.
Father Edward Moloney, rector of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat where Cardinal Pell served as priest, said the parish would commend his soul to God and condemn his merciful condemnation.
“We pray in thanksgiving for all the good he has done,” Father Moloney told the AAP.
“As with all of our dying people, we remember the words of the Bible—it is a holy and right idea to pray for the dead.”
Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81. Source: aap / Gregorio Borgia
‘Tough day for victims of child sexual abuse’
Victorian Government Minister Steve Dimopoulos said it was going to be a very difficult day for Cardinal Peel’s family and loved ones.
“But it is also a very difficult day for the survivors and victims of child sexual abuse and their families, and my thoughts are with them,” Dimopoulos told reporters Wednesday.
When asked in a May 2021 BBC interview how he felt about child sexual abuse allegations being remembered when he dies, Cardinal Pell said the legacy he left was a “good thing”.
“My only concern is to spread the truth out there. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things what people think of me. But I am careful not to judge the Church unfairly,” he said.
“I’m a bit old school, buttoned up. I think there are worse things than Stoics. I don’t think it’s always best to wear your heart on your sleeve. But what’s more important than words is what you do to help people.”
He returned to the Vatican six months after his successful appeal in September 2020.
This is a developing story and this article will be updated.
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If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call 1800RESPECT on 1800737732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.