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George Pell is dead. A former associate of Pope Francis has died at the age of 81

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Australian Cardinal George Pell, a leading Catholic conservative and former top Vatican official who was acquitted of sexual abuse charges in 2020, died Tuesday at the age of 81, his secretary said. Earlier, the Australian media reported about the death of the hierarch.

At the age of 81, Cardinal George Pell from Australia, a former close associate of Pope Francis and former prefect of the Secretariat for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, died on Tuesday in Rome. His death is reported by the Australian media, Vatican officials and the cardinal’s private secretary.

George Pell, appointed cardinal by John Paul II in 2003, was the Metropolitan of Melbourne and Sydney, a member of the Council of Cardinals – advisers to Pope Francis in 2013-2018. He was given the task of putting the Vatican finances in order.

George Pell died at the age of 81GIUSEPPE LAMI/PAP/EPA

Accusation of sexual harassment

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In 2017, Pell was accused of sexual harassment. He denied the allegations from the beginning. A year later, a Melbourne court found him guilty of sexually assaulting two boys in a local cathedral and sentenced him to six years in prison in 2019.

Cardinal Pell has been placed in a maximum security prison. While he was in prison, the appeals court rejected his appeal. The hierarch appealed the verdict in the Australian High Court. In April 2020, he was exonerated and his prison sentence overturned. He spent 13 months there.

Cardinal Pell came to Rome soon after and met the Pope three years later. He stayed in the Eternal City. On January 5 this year, he attended the funeral of retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Main photo source: GIUSEPPE LAMI/PAP/EPA

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