The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, offered condolences over the death of Cardinal George Pell in a statement published on January 11.
Australian Cardinal Pell died at the age of 81 in Rome on January 10.
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the unexpected death of Cardinal George Pell in Rome on Tuesday evening (Rome time),” said Archbishop Costelloe.
The archbishop recognized that Cardinal Pell provided strong and clear leadership within the Catholic Church in Australia, as Archbishop of Melbourne and Archbishop of Sydney and as a member of the Bishops Conference for more than 25 years.
“His many strengths were widely recognized, both in Australia and around the world, as his Vatican appointments as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and as a member of the Council of Cardinals, an advisory group to Pope Francis, testify,” the statement read.
The Australian Church Leader stated that Cardinal Pell’s impact on the life of the Church in Australia and around the world would continue to be felt for many years.
Archbishop Costelloe requested all Catholics and other people of goodwill “to join in praying for Cardinal Pell, a man of deep and abiding faith, and the repose of his soul, as we remember him and reflect on his legacy.”
According to Reuters, Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli said that Cardinal Pell died, in Rome on January 10, from heart complications following hip surgery.
Based on the sources close to Cardinal Pell, Crux reported that the cardinal suffered complications following a minor procedure at Salvator Mundi hospital in Rome and passed away shortly before 9 PM local time.
According to the source, the late Cardinal Pell would be taken back to Australia, after his Vatican funeral, and buried at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, where he was archbishop for 13 years before transferring to the Vatican.
Cardinal Pell was one of the most influential persons in the Vatican.
Shortly after being elected as Pope in 2013, Pope Francis named the late cardinal among one of the first members of the Council of Cardinals to advise Pope Francis on church administration and reform. The Pope appointed Cardinal Pell as the head of the Secretariat for the Economy.
Cardinal Pell resigned from the Secretariat for the Economy in 2017, after being accused of sexually abusing two minor boys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.
After the first trial ended in a hung jury, Cardinal Pell was unanimously convicted in a second trial and sentenced to six years. In April 2020, Australia's High Court eventually acquitted the cardinal after 400 days in isolation.
The late Cardinal Pell was born in Ballarat, Australia, in June 1941. He joined Werribee Seminary in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1966.
He became Melbourne's auxiliary bishop in 1987 and archbishop in 1996. He served in many Vatican departments.
The late Cardinal Pell became archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and was created cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003. He participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. The late cardinal attended Pope Benedict's funeral on January 5.
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