Australian Cardinal George Pell dies aged 81

Cardinal George Pell, who was accused and cleared of sexual abuse in Australia, died in Rome.

Australian Cardinal George Pell dies aged 81
Australian Cardinal George Pell dies aged 81


Australian Cardinal George Pell, a leading Roman Catholic conservative, died on Tuesday aged 81 in Rome.

"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," Australian Archbishop Anthony Fisher said in a statement.

Before a global sex-abuse scandal, Pell was widely seen as the right-hand man of Pope Francis and the third most powerful figure in the church.

Sex abuse case

Pell was imprisoned in 2019 after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s.

He spent 12 months in Barwon Prison near Melbourne before the Australian High Court quashed his convictions following an appeal.

The ruling allowed the then-78-year-old Pell to walk free, ending the case of the most senior figure accused in the global scandal of historical sex abuse that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church worldwide.

Australian in Rome

Born in a small regional town in the state of Victoria, Pell climbed higher in the Catholic Church than any other Australian before him.

Pell, a former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, served in the Vatican as economy minister from 2014 until he took a leave of absence in 2017 to return to Australia to face the charges.

He had been living in Rome since his acquittal in 2020.

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