Cardinal George Pell, who was then convicted of child sexual abuse, has died at the age of 81.

Cardinal George Pell, the conservative theologian who served as Pope Francis’ Vatican chief monetary officer and was acquitted after turning into probably the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of pedophilia, died Tuesday in Rome. He was 81 years previous.

His loss of life was confirmed by Peter Comnisoli, considered one of his successors as Archbishop of Melbourne, who stated the cardinal had died of coronary heart issues after present process hip surgical procedure. Cardinal Pell was in Rome to attend Funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI final week.

Cardinal Pell has spent greater than a yr in solitary confinement in his native Australia after a jury discovered him responsible in 2018 of assaulting two younger choristers at Melbourne Cathedral when he was the town’s archbishop within the Nineteen Nineties. An Australian Excessive Courtroom overturned his conviction in 2020.

Even after his acquittal, the cardinal remained a polarizing determine in Australia and the Church. To his critics, he was a logo of the abuse disaster. To his supporters, he was a scapegoat focused by enemies of the Church.

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Cardinal Pell, who additionally served as Archbishop of Sydney, established one of many world’s first applications to compensate victims of kid sexual abuse. However critics say he has overseen a tradition of secrecy, utilizing this system — which requires victims to waive their proper to civil authorized motion — to silence them.

A high-profile Australian investigation often known as A.J Royal Feestarted investigating pedophilia within the Catholic Church and different establishments in 2013. It discovered that the cardinal knew about youngster molestation by clergy within the Nineteen Seventies, however didn’t take ample steps to handle it.

The cardinal instructed the inquiry in 2016 that he didn’t know if the crimes of Gerald Ridsdale — a priest who was transferred from parish to parish by the church within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, and later convicted on dozens of kid sexual abuse prices — had been. basic data.

“It is a unhappy story and it wasn’t of a lot curiosity to me,” Cardinal Peel stated stated the investigation. “The struggling was, in fact, actual and I’m very sorry for it, however I had no cause to show my thoughts to the extent of the evils completed by Ridsdal.”

Cardinal Pell gave proof to the inquiry by way of video hyperlink from Rome after his legal professionals stated he was too ailing to journey to Australia. Bell suffered from hypertension, coronary heart illness, and cardiac dysfunction, and one of many medical doctors concluded that the lengthy flight was harmful to his well being.

The Cardinal was a staunch conservative of the Church’s ethical teachings, and was an ally of Benedict and Francis once they led the Church. He was canonized within the Vatican by Pope Francis in 2014 and accused of fixing his funds. His profession successfully circled when he returned to Australia in 2017 to defend himself in opposition to sexual assault allegations.

At trial, the prosecution relied on the proof of a former choirboy, who was then in his 30s and had a younger household. He reported the alleged abuse to police in 2015, after one other former teen died of an unintended drug overdose. The opposite choirboy by no means made public accusations in opposition to Cardinal Peel. (Prosecutors dropped a separate sexual assault case after the trial started.)

Cardinal Pell’s accuser, whose identify has not been publicly launched, stated he revered the acquittal and accepted the result. He stated it highlighted the difficulties in youngster sexual abuse circumstances to persuade a felony courtroom that the crime occurred past all cheap doubt.

“It’s a very excessive commonplace to fulfill – a heavy burden,” he stated in an announcement on the time. “However the worth we pay for tipping the system in favor of the accused is that many sexual crimes in opposition to kids go unpunished.”

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