Home International News Australian Cardinal George Pell dies at 81; former Vatican official had been...

Australian Cardinal George Pell dies at 81; former Vatican official had been convicted, then acquitted in sex abuse case

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Australian Cardinal George Pell in 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Australian Cardinal George Pell, former prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne, died Jan. 10 in Vatican City. He was 81.

Sources told OSV News that Cardinal Pell went in for hip replacement surgery Jan. 10 and he died from complications of the surgery.

Beginning when he was 79, Cardinal Pell spent 405 days in jail after being convicted on five counts related to the abuse of two choir boys.

In a decision handed down April 7, 2020, the Australian High Court overturned that conviction, concluding there was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.”

“Thank you for your witness,” Pope Francis told retired Australian Cardinal George Pell as the two sat down for a private meeting Oct. 12, 2020, six months after the Australian High Court overturned the cardinal’s conviction on sex abuse charges.

Cardinal Pell gave his last on-the-record interview to OSV News’ Paulina Guzik in which he commented on the Dec. 31 death of Pope Benedict XVI.

The world lost “a wonderful man. A very kind man,” the cardinal said in the interview. “I’ve seen him regularly since I came back to Rome to talk about the life of the church and many things. So I will miss him.”