Australia reacts to George Pell death

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The death of Cardinal George Pell has sparked a mixed reaction online as the world begins to process the passing of Australia’s highest-ranked Catholic cleric.

Cardinal Pell died aged 81 in a Rome hospital after suffering complications from a hip replacement surgery.

He had returned to the Vatican in September 2020, six months after he was acquitted of child sexual abuse convictions.

Cardinal George Pell has died aged 81 after suffering complications from hip surgery. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)Cardinal George Pell has died aged 81 after suffering complications from hip surgery. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

That fact made Australia’s highest-ranking catholic a highly controversial figure in the eyes of many, with some quick to share their thoughts in the moments after his death was announced.

“George Pell is dead. This will be a very triggering day for a lot of people. Thinking of them,” Four Corners reporter Louise Milligan, who reported extensively on the Catholic leader, tweeted.

“Thinking of the victims and their families who were treated so appallingly by this man and his lieutenants over many decades.” Journalist Suzie Smith, who has also reported extensively on Pell, wrote.

News.com.au contributor Nina Funnell said her thoughts were also with survivors of abuse at the hands of the church.

“Today I remember every victim and survivor of child sexual abuse who was harmed by him & every paedophile he covered for,” she tweeted.

“Today I remember all those victims who are no longer with us. And I stand with all those survivors who still are.”

New York Times journalist Frederic Martel remembered Pell as a “friendly” man despite his reputation.

“I interviewed him and his “entourage” and he has been one of the key character and source of my book Sodoma (In the Closet of the Vatican, in English). An archi-conservative, accused of abuses in Australia; yet he was friendly. RIP,” he tweeted.

Others in the Catholic Church were quick to share their condolences.

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s highest ranking Catholic, has died in Rome at the age of 81 after suffering complications from a hip replacement surgery. Photo: Victor SokolowiczCardinal George Pell, Australia’s highest ranking Catholic, has died in Rome at the age of 81 after suffering complications from a hip replacement surgery. Photo: Victor Sokolowicz

High-profile Catholic Parish Priest of Seaham and Houghton-le-Spring, Father Marc Lyden-Smith, shared his grief for the Cardinal.

“Cardinal Pell has died. May the choirs of angels come to greet him and lead him to eternal life. Rest in peace,” he wrote.

Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter A Comensoli, shared his condolences.

“With great sadness, the news is out that Cardinal George Pell died a few hours ago from heart complications following hip surgery. May eternal light now be his, who so steadfastly believed in the God of Jesus Christ,” he said.

British commentator Lois McLatchie also remembered Pell fondly.

“ I had the good fortune of meeting Cardinal Pell and hearing him speak last Summer. Despite all he had been through – falsely accused and imprisoned – there didn’t seem to be a drop of bitterness. He made use of his time on earth – whether in Church or prison – to glorify God,” she said.

Chad Pecknold, Associate Professor of The Catholic University of America, also fondly bid farewell, claiming he had been “unjustly vilified”.

“I am very sorry to hear of the sudden death of Cardinal Pell, who was so unjustly vilified in hatred of the faith, who suffered in union with Christ, and who was also vindicated by a unanimous court — surely a martyr in the ancient sense, a witness,” he said

More to come …

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