Who is Cardinal George Pell? Cause of death explored as controversial Catholic dies aged 81

George Pell recently died at the age of 81 (Image via David Geraghty/Getty Images)
George Pell recently died at the age of 81 (Image via David Geraghty/Getty Images)

Australian cardinal of the Catholic Church, George Pell, passed away on January 10. He was 81. According to Father Joseph Hamilton, Pell was admitted to the hospital for hip surgery, and although the procedure was completed without any problems, Pell had a cardiac arrest, which led to his death.

Member of the Australian House of Representatives Julian Leeser paid tribute to him on Facebook and wrote that he was an extraordinary figure in the Catholic church and was one of the most significant Australians of the late 20th century. The post continued,

“He was a reformer. Reformers are controversial and upend established orders. Whether at home or abroad, George Pell was sent in to clean up the messes of others.”

He wrote that Pell never tried to become famous and aimed to work for the development of his church. Leeser said that Pell was well-known for establishing the Australian Catholic University where the former also worked for a few years before becoming a parliamentarian.

Julian said that Pell had to face some legal issues but was acquitted through a unanimous decision of the High Court. Leeser also mentioned,

“The level of opprobrium that has been heaped on George Pell was alsmot without precedent in Australia history. I suspect, in part, this fury reflected a reckoning with the historical failures of the wider Catholic Church to deal with child s**ual abuse, as well as the harsh public caricature that was the result of his positions on many issues.”

Leeser wrote that he met Pell on various occasions and described him as warm, humble, and thoughtful.

George Pell worked as a priest in various places

George Pell was a priest at various places (Image via Con Chronis/Getty Images)
George Pell was a priest at various places (Image via Con Chronis/Getty Images)

Born on June 8, 1941, Pell was ordained a priest in 1966 and a bishop in 1987. He was the Archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne and gained recognition as an author, columnist, and public speaker.

He was a chaplain at Eton College and an assistant priest at Swan Hill for two years. He served at a parish in Ballarat East for 10 years and worked as an editor of a newspaper named Light for five years. He was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as a consultor and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family in December 2002.

George became a cardinal priest of Santa Maria Domenica Mazzarello in 2003 and participated in the papal conclave in 2005 and 2013. He was chosen as the first prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, where he served for five years, and was a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2014.


George Pell was accused of multiple s--ual assault offenses in 2017. The first trial concluded without reaching a proper verdict and he was sent to prison for six years after the second trial. According to a man’s testimony, he was s--ually abused by Pell at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne along with a choirboy, and the victims were 13 years old when the incident happened.

The witness stated that George brought them to the priest’s sacristy and forced them to perform s*x acts. There was no physical evidence to prove the accusations. George was taken to solitary confinement to keep him safe, and he also wrote a diary while he was in prison.

After George appealed the verdict, his lawyers decided to take it to Australia’s High Court, and the court declared in 2020 that the appeal judges had committed a mistake in their investigation.


The court ordered to overturn the accusations of child s*x abuse against Pell and following his demise, the choirboy’s legal team said that they would try to get a civil claim on the charges against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Pell’s estate.

George Pell’s body shall be brought back to Australia, and he shall be buried at Sydney's St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Edited by Somava
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