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Australian politician, Pope Francis have high praise for Cardinal Pell



J-P Mauro - published on 01/11/23

Cardinal George Pell passed away on January 10, 2023, due to complications from hip replacement surgery.

The Catholic Church has lost another prelate of the Silent Generation with the passing of Cardinal George Pell. The archbishop emeritus of Sydney, who held the office from 2014 – 2019, passed away due to complications following hip replacement surgery, on the evening of January 10, 2023.

Pope Francis and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott are remembering Pell’s life’s works. 

Pope Francis

Shortly after Cardinal Pell’s death was announced, Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing his condolences to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals. The Pontiff recalled Cardinal Pell’s:

consistent and committed witness, his dedication to the Gospel and to the Church, and particularly his diligent cooperation with the Holy See in its recent economic reform, for which he laid the foundations with determination and wisdom.”

Pope Francis went on to commend Cardinal Pell for his life’s work and his commitment even in the face of hardship. He wrote how he:

“without wavering, followed his Lord with perseverance even in the hour of test,” praying that he would “be welcomed in the joy of heaven and receive the award of peace eternal.”

The “hour of test” alludes to Cardinal Pell’s conviction and ultimate exoneration from accusations of child abuse. Cardinal Pell served over 400 days in jail for a conviction that was unanimously overturned by the Australian High Court, in 2020.

Tony Abbott

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent his condolences from Twitter, where he called Pell a “great son” of Australia and a “great leader” of the Catholic Church. He remembered Cardinal Pell as a “committed defender of Catholic orthodoxy and a staunch advocate for the virtues of Western Civilization.

Abbott called Cardinal Pell’s incarceration a “modern form of Crucifixion,” and suggested that his prison journals should be counted among the classics. He said that Pell’s writings present “a fine man wrestling with a cruel fate and trying to make sense of the unfairness of suffering.” 

Abbott went so far as to suggest that the grace with which Pell responded to the “monstrous allegation” struck him as saintly. The former Australian PM compared Pell to Julian of Norwich, a Medieval anchoress who wrote extensively during her time in seclusion.

Abbott concluded by expressing his “deep sense of loss” and relayed his hopes that Cardinal Pell’s reputation will grow until he becomes “an inspiration for the ages.” 

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