#BreakingNews Catholic Cardinal George Pell of Australia has Died at Age 81 - RIP

The Catholic Bishops of Australia just released a post on their Facebook page from Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Australia that Cardinal George Pell, prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, has died at age 81. He wrote: 

It is with deep sadness that I can confirm His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell, passed away in Rome in the early hours of this morning. This news comes as a great shock to all of us. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Pell, for comfort and consolation for his family and for all of those who loved him and are grieving him at this time.

The Bishops' Page said: Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has confirmed the reports of the death of Cardinal George Pell, his predecessor as Archbishop of Sydney. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.


Pell had recently attended the funeral of his friend, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Cardinal Pell was imprisoned in 2019 after he was found guilty of  abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s. He spent over 12 months in prison near Melbourne before the Australian High Court threw down his convictions following an appeal. He died, of cardiac arrest, after complications from a hip replacement surgery. (Source: News.au.com)

Vatican News related that Pell - who had suffered from heart problems for some time and had had a pacemaker implanted since 2010 - was in Rome, where he returned in September 2020, two years after undergoing a trial in Australia for allegations of sexual abuse of minors over the years 90's. In June 2017, the cardinal was indicted and returned to his country to stand trial. Pope Francis had granted him a period of leave to be able to defend himself against the accusations. After a lengthy judicial hearing, the County Court of the State of Victoria had ordered the arrest of the cardinal, revoking the bail granted to him after his indictment in December 2018. Sentenced in March 2019 to a six-year prison sentence, the Supreme Court of Australia, in the light of the numerous formal flaws in the procedural procedures reported by judge Mark Weinberg, admitted the appeal request presented by Pell's lawyers. The cardinal was then completely exonerated by a High Court ruling in April 2020. A ruling welcomed with satisfaction by the Holy See which, in a statement, stated that it had always placed its trust in the Australian judicial authority.

Pell: In prison I forgave my accusers, faith kept me alive

Before his release, however, Pell spent 404 days in a cell in two maximum security prisons in Melbourne and Barwon from February to July 2019. A tough experience, also lived for a period in solitary confinement, of which the cardinal had reported every detail in a series entitled “Prison Jorunal. Diary of a Prison”, published by Ignatius Press. In over 300 pages, Pell, taking inspiration from what he had noted down daily, reported meetings with other prisoners, visits and letters received, prayers and the Eucharist that accompanied him during his imprisonment. "My experience shows how much the teachings of the Church help us, how much it helps to pray, to seek God's grace", he said in an interview with Vatican Radio - Vatican News, in which he also explained that he wrote continuously during his imprisonment because "I thought that could have been of help for those who find themselves in difficulty, for those who are experiencing a moment of suffering, like the one I experienced. Then - he added - I thought that keeping a diary would be of some interest from a historical point of view, because there have not been many cardinals who have had the experience of prison". (Vatican News)

Official Biography: 

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop emeritus of Sydney (Australia), Prefect emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See and the Vatican City State, was born on 8 June 1941 in Ballarat, Australia. He was ordained on 16 December 1966 and holds a licentiate in theology from the Urbaniana University of Rome, a master’s degree in education from Monash University and a doctorate of philosophy in Church History from the University of Oxford. Cardinal Pell served as Director of the Aquinas Campus of the Institute of Catholic Education (1974-84) and Principal of the Institute of Catholic Education (1981-1984). 

He was Episcopal Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Ballarat and a founding member of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. On 30 March 1987 he was elected titular Bishop of Scala and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and received episcopal ordination on 21 May 1987. From 1988-1997 he was Chairman of Caritas Australia. 

During that same period, he was member of the National Catholic Commission and from 1994-1997 he was Secretary to the Bishops’ Committee for Education. In 1989, Cardinal Pell was appointed Chairman of the committee charged with setting up the new Australian Catholic University, and in 1991-1995 he served as pro-chancellor of the University’s Foundation. 

From 1985-1987 he was Rector of Corpus Christi College, the Provincial Seminary for Victoria and Tasmania. In 1990, he attended the Synod of Bishops in Rome on the preparation of priests, where he served as one of the Synod spokesmen and on the committee which prepared the final Synod message. He was appointed Apostolic Visitor to the National seminaries of New Zealand (1994), Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (1995), the Pacific (1996) and Irian Jaya and Sulawesi (1998) by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican. 

On 16 July 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed him Metropolitan Archbishop of Melbourne. He was installed as Archbishop on 16 August 1996 in a ceremony at the Exhibition Buildings, and received the Pallium from the Pope at St. Peter’s in Rome on the feast of Sts Peter and Paul, 29 June 1997. In November 1998, Cardinal Pell attended the Synod for Oceania. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to represent the Bishops of Australia and Oceania at the Special Synod for European Bishops in 1999 and the Synod of Bishops held in 2001. 

In April 2002, he was named President of the Vox Clara committee for the English translations of liturgical texts. On 26 March 2001, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Pell the eighth Metropolitan Archbishop of Sydney. He was installed as Archbishop at St. Mary’s Cathedral of 10 May 2001, and the following month received the Pallium for the second time at St. Peter’s in Rome on the feast of Sts Peter and Paul. 

On 9 September 2008 he was appointed President Delegate of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” (5-26 October 2008). [substituting for Cardinal Oswald Gracias] On 13 April 2013 he was made a member of the Council of cardinals established to advise Pope Francis in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia,‘Pastor Bonus’. On 24 February 2014 he was appointed Prefect of the new Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See and the Vatican City State. He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI and in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis. Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003, of the Title of S. Maria Domenica Mazzarello (St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello).

A statement from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

It was with great sadness that I learned of the unexpected death of Cardinal George Pell in Rome on Tuesday evening (Rome time). 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 recognised, 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.
Cardinal Pell’s impact on the life of the Church in Australia and around the world will continue to be felt for many years. As we remember him and reflect on his legacy, I invite all Catholics and other people of goodwill to join in praying for Cardinal Pell, a man of deep and abiding faith, and for the repose of his soul.
 Sources: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/documentation/cardinali_biografie/cardinali_bio_pell_g.html - https://www.facebook.com/AustralianCatholicBishops


Kevin Guinane said…
Church leadership was pathetic
Abortion and gay rights were being promoted by Catholic police and teachers in Catholic schools and seminaries and
only boring old nutters were secretly thus in a cowardly way speaking out
The along cam Pell
If he had made Pope I would think it possible 95 percent of Catholic politicians around the world would have been
officially excommunicated for supporting gay marriage and abortion and rightly so if he had
But unfortunately we will never know
He may well become a saint