Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81 following complications from hip surgery.
Vatican news outlet EWTN confirmed Pell’s passing, with reports indicating that he died of cardiac arrest following surgery in a Rome hospital.
BREAKING | Cardinal George Pell has died after complications from a hip replacement surgery. He was 81 years old.
May he Rest in Peace ???????? pic.twitter.com/KfHjuurlpq
— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) January 10, 2023
Pell served as both archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney and was appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and ran the Vatican’s finances from 2014 until his appointment expired in 2019.
In December 2018, Pell was convicted of historical child sexual abuse and was sentenced to six-years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months. The former Archbishop of Melbourne maintained his innocence throughout the legal proceedings.
However in 2020, the High Court of Australia quashed Cardinal George Pell’s convictions for child sexual abuse.
The unanimous decision was handed down by the country’s highest court, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel delivered the ruling in Brisbane to an almost-empty room, due to strict social distancing guidelines at the time.
“Today, the High Court granted special leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria and unanimously allowed the appeal,” the judgement in Pell v The Queen reads.
“The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place.”
The judgement concluded: “With respect to each of the applicant’s convictions, 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.”
Following the ruling, Pell released a statement in which he claimed to “hold no ill will” towards his accuser. He said: “I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.”
“The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not,” he added. “The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.”
More to come as this story develops.
DISCLAIMER: If you are concerned about violence or misconduct impacting you, your family, friends or workplace, the numbers below may help. National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service — 1800 737 732, Mensline Australia — 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia — 1300 364 277, BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800; Lifeline Australia — 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.