Australia’s colossus of conservative Catholicism, Cardinal George Pell has died, aged 81. Let’s see more details about George Pell and his cause of death in detail.
What happened to George Pell?
Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said Pell died from heart complications following hip surgery. “With great sadness, the news is out that Cardinal George Pell died a few hours ago, from heart complications following hip surgery,” he said.
“May eternal light now be his, who so steadfastly believed in the God of Jesus Christ?” His death came a few days after he attended the funeral of former pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.
Vale, Cardinal George Pell AC pic.twitter.com/DaSUNso9Lj
— Tony Abbott (@HonTonyAbbott) January 11, 2023
Pell’s Cause of death
Pell died of cardiac arrest at Salvator Mundi hospital in Rome following surgery to his hip on 10 January 2023, at the age of 81. Plans were made to return Pell’s remains to Australia and bury him at the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney following his Vatican funeral.
He was suffering from many health issues in the past years. He had been chatting to the anesthetist in the hospital following the procedure when he suddenly went into cardiac arrest as per the reports.
Pell’s Previous Illness
Pell developed cardiac issues in January 2010 when visiting the Vatican, and in February a pacemaker was implanted in his chest in a hospital in Rome. He was unable to fly from Italy to Australia in 2015 because his doctors determined that his heart condition was too severe for him to testify before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In February 2016, he was anticipated to be healthy enough to travel. However, based on a two-page medical assessment provided by Pell’s attorneys, commission chair Justice Peter McClellan disallowed him from testifying in person. He gave his testimony via video link from a hotel in Rome. He underwent knee surgery in December of last year. By June 2019, he had healed enough to stop needing a cane.
In February 2019, when he was taken into custody following his conviction, an assessment of his mental and physical health concluded he was healthy enough to be kept in HM Melbourne Assessment Prison.
Pell’s early career
In his early years as a priest, Pell served in Swan Hill, Ballarat, and Melbourne. Gerald Ridsdale, a known child molester, was someone he encountered during his 1973 stint at the St. Alipius presbytery in Ballarat East.
For the three-decades-long sexual assaults on more than 71 children, that former Catholic priest is still in jail. When Ridsdale entered a guilty plea to 13 additional charges connected to the assault of two boys in 1981 and 1982, the most recent ones became public in October 2022.
He has served 39 years of his complete sentence for offenses committed over a long period. Pell consistently denied being aware of Ridsdale abusing minors in the 1970s.
Cardinal George Pell rose from a childhood in country Victoria to become one of the most senior Catholic clerics in the world before sex assault allegations embroiled him in multiple court cases.
A divisive figure, Pell had spent the final years of his life living in the Archdiocese of Sydney – over which he once presided as the Archbishop of Sydney – following the High Court’s unanimous quashing of his conviction for child sex offenses in April 2020.
Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric had always maintained his innocence, despite being found guilty by a jury on December 11, 2018, of the 1996 rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral, while he was Archbishop of Melbourne.
He had been sentenced to six years, with a minimum of three years and eight months. In 2020, the conviction was overturned by the High Court, and he was released from prison.
Australia reacts on Social Media
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the sudden death of Cardinal George Pell is a “difficult day” for many Australians, especially those of the Catholic faith. “For many people, particularly of the Catholic faith, this will be a difficult day and I express my condolences to all those who are mourning today,” Albanese said.
“This will come as a shock to many – this was a hip operation and the consequences of it unfortunately have been that Cardinal Pell has lost his life.”
A father of a deceased ex-choirboy who alleged that George Pell sexually abused him while he was Archbishop of Melbourne will continue his civil action against the cardinal despite his death. Statement from his lawyer, Lisa Flynn: pic.twitter.com/tRWbzCzMzi
— Benita Kolovos (@benitakolovos) January 11, 2023
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said the news of Pell’s passing came as a ‘great shock’. “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,” he said.
Father Edward Moloney, the administrator of Ballarat’s St Patrick’s Cathedral where Cardinal Pell served as a priest, said the parish would commend his soul to God and his merciful judgment.
“We pray in thanksgiving for all the good that he did,” Father Moloney told AAP. “As with all our people who die, we remember the words of the scriptures – it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.”
BREAKING | Cardinal George Pell passed away at 20:50 (Rome local time) today after suffering cardiac arrest at the age of 81.
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/u97CvHIrb8
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) January 10, 2023
Former prime minister Tony Abbot said the cardinal was a “committed defender of Catholic orthodoxy and a staunch advocate for the virtues of Western civilization”.
“Australia has lost a great son and the church has lost a great leader with the passing of George Pell,” he said.
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