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Catholic Bishops praise Cardinal Pell’s ‘strong and clear leadership’

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Cardinal George Pell speaking at the Campion College capital appeal dinner at NSW Parliament House in August 2022. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Australia’s Catholic Bishops have mourned the passing of Cardinal George Pell, who died in Rome age 81 after suffering a heart attack, brought on by complications from hip replacement surgery.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said in a statement that he learned of the unexpected death of the Cardinal “with great sadness”.

“Cardinal Pell provided strong and clear leadership within the Catholic Church in Australia, as Archbishop of Melbourne and Archbishop of Sydney and as a member of the Bishops Conference for more than 25 years,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

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“His many strengths were widely recognised, both in Australia and around the world, as his Vatican appointments as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and as a member of the Council of Cardinals, an advisory group to Pope Francis, testify.

“Cardinal Pell’s impact on the life of the Church in Australia and around the world will continue to be felt for many years.

“As we remember him and reflect on his legacy, I invite all Catholics and other people of goodwill to join in praying for Cardinal Pell, a man of deep and abiding faith, and for the repose of his soul.”

Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart, previously an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, said he also felt “great personal sadness and shock” upon hearing of the sudden death of His Eminence.

“As a former auxiliary bishop in Sydney I worked closely with Cardinal Pell for 10 years. During this time I came to know a man of deep personal faith with a profound love for the Church,” Archbishop Porteous said.

“He was a champion of Catholic teaching and the advancement of the mission of the Church, not only in Sydney but worldwide.

“During my time with him I came to know his deep warmth and humanity. He was to suffer greatly for his strong stand on many issues and experienced, no doubt, much personal pain during his time of trial and imprisonment, especially due to the level of public vilification.

“He was unbowed by this experience and in his final years spent mainly in Rome continued to contribute to the mission of the Church.

“Along with so many who admired him and loved him, I pray for the repose of his soul and commend him to the Lord, whom he served with unstinting devotion. Requiescat in Pace.”

Other heads of Catholic institutions paid tribute to the Cardinal, including Australian Catholic University Chancellor, the Hon. Martin Daubney AM KC, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Zlatko Skrbis.

In a statement, ACU praised His Eminence’s contribution to Catholic education in more than 20 significant leadership positions, including President of the ACU Corporation and Co-Founder of the Sydney campuses of the University of Notre Dame, Australia.

Mr Daubney said that Cardinal Pell was a central figure in the formation and foundation of ACU.

“From the time of its inception, Cardinal Pell maintained a deep and abiding interest in ACU. The Church and its institutions in Australia and abroad are indebted to Cardinal Pell for his leadership and contribution to our community.

“His death will be felt by many in the Australian church and the wider community. We join with all people of faith in praying for the repose of his soul.”

Professor Skrbis said that Cardinal Pell was “extraordinarily generous in lending his expertise to ACU”.

“I regularly had the benefit of his advice, which was always thoughtful and always greatly valued.”

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