ARCHIVE – Australian Curia Cardinal George Pell during a press conference. Photo: Paul Miller/AAP/dpa
This possibility is “clearly ruled out”, said the Prime Minister of the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, on Thursday. He could not imagine “anything more painful” for people who have been victims of sexual abuse than such a state funeral, Andrews emphasized. At the same time, he expressed his condolences to Pell’s family, colleagues and friends.
The cleric, who died in Rome on Tuesday at the age of 81, was for years number three in the Vatican under Francis and the highest-ranking cleric in the history of the Catholic Church to be convicted of child molestation. However, in 2020, Pell was acquitted on appeal after serving around 13 months and released from prison.
The cardinal was a former Archbishop of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, and of Sydney, the capital of neighboring New South Wales. A state funeral is ruled out in both states, the Australian news agency AAP reported. The body is to be flown from Rome to Australia in the next few days. A funeral mass is reportedly planned at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. Pell will then be buried in the crypt of the church.
The case for which Pell was being tried in his home country dates back to 1996-97, when he had just become Archbishop of Melbourne. After a service he is said to have passed on two choirboys who were 13 years old at the time. Pell had denied the allegations. Australia’s highest court granted the appeal in April 2020 for lack of evidence. After 13 months, Pell was surprisingly released – and returned to the Vatican a few months after his release in the middle of the corona pandemic. (SDA)