George Pell: A Cardinal Icon dies at 81
It is with heartfelt news to present that Australian Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81. Five days after attending the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to his death, he was going through hip surgery at a local hospital in Rome. His procedure finished in a successful manner. He chatted briefly with his anesthetist in relief and then suddenly went into cardiac arrest.
Deep faith and integrity is what we know of George Pell, becoming archbishop of the Australian Catholic church between 1996 and 2003. His iconic reputation as a wholesome, conservative figure tainted when accused in 2017 of child molestation in the late 1990s. What started as a questionable conviction finished with a guilty verdict, sentencing him to six years in prison in 2019.
Journaling his prayers and Bible readings kept Pell sane during his 404 days of solitary confinement. Other written accounts included his everyday interactions with prison guards and inmates. He reflected sufferably of the Church (Australian Catholic Church) and conscious insights of the allegations placed on him. Altogether, this created a remarkable testimony of his experience to share. The page-filled recollections converted into Prison Journal, which grew into a series of volumed books for readers to purchase.
It was in April during the height of the pandemic that the Court acquitted Pell of any child abuse convictions. Through it all, Pell was faithful in his teachings and to his innocence. His honorable esteem as a protector of the Vatican Church financially and a vehement defender of traditional morality, tarnished after the scandal.
His final years were spent in Rome staying close to Pope Francis and overlooking the assets of the Vatican. Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote in wake of the news how he will always remember Pell as a “saint for our times”.
Born in Ballarat, Australia under a gold-mining father and a devoted Catholic mother, George Pell grew up through humble beginnings. His standout talents in academics and Australian football earned him a professional football contract for the Richmond Football Club. Instead of signing with the team, he chose to attend the seminary to become a priest.
Sadly, Pell’s legacy may live on for some as steadfast believer of Christ and others as a fallen saint for his role in the scandal. His final television interview was eight days ago when he sat down with Colm Flynn of EWT News. During the interview, Flynn asked Pell how he feels about being associated with the child abuse case. With immediacy, Pell answers in a cheerful way, “that explains why I’m talking to you, which is a good thing”. He continues the rest of the interview with no regrets and keen understanding — just as long as he “get the truth out there.”
Featured Image: The Wall Street Journal