Keys: George Pell, cardinal who acted “with determination, wisdom” according to Pope

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12/01/2023
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Australian Cardinal, George Pell, worked closely with Pope Francis. 

He was part of the group of cardinals that Pope Francis commissioned to reform the Curia. Not only that, in 2014, the Pope appointed Cardinal Pell as the head of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy, a body charged with bringing order and promoting transparency in the Vatican finances.

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
We're dealing with a wider structure, which affects all the other administrative structures within the Holy See. (Flash) Here, we're talking about all the institutions that have a financial or administrative aspect. So, from now on, they will be under the guidance of this new body, which has a wider scope.

Pope Francis praised Cardinal Pell's work on several occasions. In the telegram he sent to the Dean of the College of Cardinals marking Cardinal Pell's death, the Pope says that he established “the foundations” of the Secretariat for the Economy with “determination and wisdom.”

In his work with Vatican finances, Cardinal Pell brought to light many inconsistencies. For example, a discrepancy that 300 properties together brought in a total income of only $65,000 annually.

CARD. GEORGE PELL
May, 2021
Who knows? I don't know. I mean, one of the stories was that quite a number of the properties were run down. But of course, anybody who's managing a portfolio of properties, makes it their business to keep the properties in good repair so they can be rented. Now, I'm not equipped to try to explain that brute fact, but I can vouch for the fact that that was in the reports. Now, that's indicative of all sorts of things. It's indicative of why we're in financial difficulty in the Vatican.

As the head of the Secretariat for the Economy, the Australian Cardinal helped reform other Vatican departments, including the Secretariat of State under Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

In 2017, with Pope Francis' permission, Cardinal Pell traveled to Australia to defend himself against accusations of alleged sexual abuse. The Cardinal believed he was being persecuted with the goal of discrediting his character.

CARD. GEORGE PELL
June 2017
These matters have been under investigation and now for two years. There have been leaks to the media. There has been relentless character assassination. I'm innocent of these charges. They are false The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.

But in April 2020, the Cardinal was acquitted by the Australian High Court after spending about 400 days in prison—something which had a deep impact on him.

CARD. GEORGE PELL
May, 2021

Obviously, I was up and down psychologically and spiritually and my situation could have been worse if my appeal had ultimately failed. I would have had another and deeper challenge.

Cardinal Pell spent his last years at the Vatican, where he was able to meet with Pope Francis.

-Thank you.

-Thank you, Holy Father.

-Thank you for your witness.

Before his death on January 10, the Australian Cardinal participated in different liturgical celebrations at St. Peter's, such as the Mass on January 1—the day after the death of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

CARD. GEORGE PELL
Pope Benedict was a very good pope. He was a good friend, he was a very genuine, prayerful disciple of Jesus Christ.

During Pope Francis' pontificate, Cardinal George Pell was responsible for much reform. Even though, after being acquitted in Australia, he did not take up any other position in the Curia.

JRB

TR: KG

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