Australian Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81.
The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald confirmed the news from multiple sources on Wednesday morning, after several Catholic media outlets reported the cardinal’s death.
Pell is thought to have died from complications of a hip replacement.
“Just spoke to his family and can confirm the sad news that Cardinal George Pell has passed away at the age of 81,” the EWTN News Vatican tweeted. “Rest in Peace.”
George Pell AC is Cardinal of the Australian Catholic Church. He was founding Minister of the Economic Secretariat from 2014 to 2019 and a member of the Council of Cardinals from 2013 to 2018. He was ordained a priest in 1966, a priest in 1987 and a cardinal in 2003. Pell was the eighth Archbishop of Sydney (2001-2014), seventh Archbishop of Melbourne (1996-2001) and auxiliary bishop of Melbourne (1987-1996). He is also an author, columnist and speaker. Since 1996, Pell has maintained a high public profile on a wide range of issues while maintaining Catholic orthodoxy.
Pell has served as a pastor in rural Victoria and Melbourne, and was president of the charity Caritas Australia (part of Caritas International) from 1988 to 1997. Admitted to the Australian Government in 2003 and awarded an Order of Australia in 2005. While serving as Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell developed the Melbourne Response Protocol in 1996 to investigate and resolve complaints of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese. The agreement, the first of its kind in the world, has been widely criticized.
Pell was convicted of multiple sex offenses in 2018: the convictions were later overturned by the High Court of Australia in 2020. A separate investigation by the Ministry of the Doctrine of the Doctrine into the allegations of abuse ended with a high court acquittal of him.
The Commission on Child Sexual Abuse, an Australian crown body, has released the findings of its 2020 investigation into Pell, which found he knew about the sexual abuse of children by clergy in the 1970s but had failed to do enough to address the problem. Pell said he was “surprised” that the committee’s view was “not supported by any evidence”.