Cardinal George Pell, 81, has died.
The Australian clergyman was a prominent Roman Catholic conservative and a former top official at Vatican.
Pell was a former archbishop in Melbourne and Sydney. He served as Vatican economy minister between 2014 and 2017. In 2017, he returned to Australia to face sexual abuse charges.
He was found guilty of molestation of two male choirboys in 2018 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne. This was during his tenure as archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
He maintained his innocence throughout his imprisonment, which lasted 13 months until his conviction by the Australian High Court was overturned in 2020.
The ruling allowed the then-78-year old to leave the court without any further action, ending the case against the senior figure in the scandal of historical sex abuse that rocked worldwide the Roman Catholic Church.
Pell was a controversial figure even before the allegations of sexual assault. He was revered by conservative Catholics, but hated by liberals because he opposed same-sex marriage, abortion, and women’sordination.
Since his 2020 acquittal, Pell had lived in Rome.
His private secretary, Fr Joseph Hamilton said that he had died in Rome on Tuesday.
Peter Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne, stated that he had experienced heart complications after hip surgery.
He released a Facebook statement saying that Cardinal Pell was “a very important and influential Church leader, both nationally and internationally, and deeply committed to Christian discipleship.”