the main points
- The Vatican organized the funeral service for George Pell.
- Pope Francis will offer the final blessing and praise.
- A memorandum issued after George Pell’s death alleged that the cardinal had described Pope Francis’ papacy as a “disaster”.
Cardinal George Pell lies in state as funeral preparations are overshadowed by the revelation that he was the author of an anonymous note calling Pope Francis’ pontificate a disaster.
Bell’s closed sepia wooden sarcophagus was placed on the floor of the chapel of St. Stephen of Abyssinia, within the walls of the Vatican a few yards from the Santa Marta residence where Francis lived.
Early on Friday, a reporter saw about 20 people kneeling in prayer in the church when it opened for 10 hours of lying in condition.
Pell, 81, who spent more than a year in prison before being cleared of sexual assault allegations in Australia, died Tuesday night in a Rome hospital of heart failure.
The chapel, usually used for baptisms and weddings, is one of the oldest in the Vatican.
Parts of it date back to the 5th century and it is one of the few buildings that was not demolished to make way for the construction of St Peter’s Basilica, which began in the early 16th century.
His funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday, across the road at St Peter’s Church.
In keeping with the tradition of deceased cardinals, the Mass will be said by the Italian Dean of the College of Cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, and the Pope will offer a final blessing and praise.
Bell’s sudden death of cardiac arrest during what was expected to be a traumatic hip replacement surgery was followed the next day.
Last year, respected Italian journalist Sandro Magister, who has a long record of receiving leaked Vatican documents, published an anonymous note circulating in the Vatican condemning Pope Francis’ papacy as a “disaster.”
The Magister revealed on his widely circulated blog, Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven), that Bell wrote the memo and gave him permission to publish it under the pseudonym “Demos” – Greek for the general public.
The funeral service for Cardinal George Pell will be held at St Peter’s Basilica. Source: GT / Andreas Solaro
It included what the author said the qualities of the next pope should be.
“Everyone here is talking about it,” said the Vatican official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official said he had no doubts that Pell was the author but said the reveal should have been delayed until after his funeral “out of respect for the dead”.
Father Joseph Hamilton, Pell’s personal secretary, declined to comment on the MA report and Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no comment.
Pell will be buried in the crypt at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, where he served as Archbishop.