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 changing into probably the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of pedophilia, died Tuesday in Rome. He was 81 years outdated.

His dying was confirmed by Peter Comnisoli, one in all his successors as Archbishop of Melbourne, who mentioned 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 12 months 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 town’s archbishop within the Nineties. An Australian Excessive Court docket 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 an emblem 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 little one molestation by clergy within the Seventies, however didn’t take enough steps to deal with it.

The cardinal informed 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 Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, and later convicted on dozens of kid sexual abuse fees — have been. common information.

“It is a unhappy story and it wasn’t of a lot curiosity to me,” Cardinal Peel mentioned mentioned 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 carried out by Ridsdal.”

Cardinal Pell gave proof to the inquiry through video hyperlink from Rome after his legal professionals mentioned he was too ailing to journey to Australia. Bell suffered from hypertension, coronary heart illness, and cardiac dysfunction, and one of many docs 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 after they led the Church. He was canonized within the Vatican by Pope Francis in 2014 and accused of fixing his funds. His profession successfully rotated 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, mentioned he revered the acquittal and accepted the end result. He mentioned it highlighted the difficulties in little one sexual abuse circumstances to persuade a prison court docket that the crime occurred past all affordable doubt.

“It’s a very excessive normal to satisfy – a heavy burden,” he mentioned 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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