Cardinal George Pell died aged 81

Rest In Peace Cardinal George Pell AC.

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic who was found guilty and then acquitted of child sexual abuse in recent years, has died in Vatican City aged 81.

Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, died Tuesday evening after suffering a cardiac arrest following hip surgery in Rome.

He had attended the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI days earlier.

Pell – a staunch conservative who opposed same-sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion and contraception - rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church in Australia before being placed in charge of the Vatican’s finances in 2014, making him the most senior Australian Catholic in history.

In 2018 Pell was convicted of molesting two teenage choirboys in the sacristy at St Patrick’s Cathedral while he was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. He always maintained his innocence, and his convictions were quashed in a unanimous decision by the high court in 2020.

A polarising figure in his home country over several decades, Pell attracted criticism for suggesting abortion was a worse moral failing than Catholic clergy abusing children, describing contraception as a “heresy” and actively lobbying the Australian government against the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

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