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Cardinal Pell’s first Mass in public in Rome

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Cardinal George Pell greets Tony Abbott and Chiara Porro following Mass at Domus Australia in Rome. PHOTO: Supplied

Cardinal George Pell has said his first Mass in public in Rome since leaving the eternal city 2017.

He celebrated the Mass on the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop in the chapel of Domus Australia.

Hosted by the rector of Domus, Monsignor John Boyle, the Mass was attended by former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro and US Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich.

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It capped off a big week for the cardinal who shortly after returning to the Vatican on 30 September was also received in a private audience by Pope Francis.

The cardinal celebrated the Mass on the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in the chapel of Domus Australia, a guesthouse for Australian pilgrims which he was mainly responsible for establishing in 2010.

America Magazine reports that in his homily the cardinal said the saint’s canonisation was warmly welcomed throughout Australia, not only by Catholics but also by many who were not of the Catholic faith.

Monsignor John Boyle and Cardinal George Pell with a relic of St Mary MacKillop in the chapel of Domus Australia on 17 October. PHOTO: Supplied

He spoke about the situation the Church is facing today in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but made no reference to his ordeal over these past three years.

The Mass was hosted by Domus Australia and its rector, Mons John Boyle, with support from the Australian embassy and its new ambassador, Chiara Porro.

The congregation numbered 45 people in attendance by invitation-only from the Australian Embassy and limited in number due to Covid-19 restrictions. It included the former prime minister Tony Abbott, and the US ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, and her husband, Newt.

Also present were the rectors of the Venerable English College, Monsignor Philip Whitmore, and of the Beda College, Canon Philip Gillespie, and Fr Robert McCulloch, the procurator general of the Columban Fathers.

Cardinal Pell left the Vatican in July 2017 to face historical abuse charges in Australia. He was convicted and imprisoned in Victoria for more than 12 months before acquitted in an unanimous decision of the High Court in April.

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