Australia received the news this morning of the passing of Cardinal George Pell DD AC.
The son of a Ballarat publican, the Oxford-educated George Pell was a man of immense erudition and faith.
Our nation has lost an important intellectual figure and a towering presence in the Catholic community.
His death will be felt in the Vatican and by Catholics around the world.
In his youth, Pell was a skilled Australian Rules footballer. But it was in his faith, rather than on the footy field, that he found his calling.
George Pell was ordained in 1966. He served as a priest in parishes around Victoria, before becoming the seventh Archbishop of Melbourne and the eighth Archbishop of Sydney.
Dr Pell’s appointment as a Cardinal in 2003 was a good day for Australia and for the Catholic Church here.
He brought the World Youth Day and Pope Benedict XVI to Sydney in 2008 – a time of immense joy for young Australian Catholics and Catholic pilgrims from across the world who visited our shores.
His advocacy for Catholic education and a fair go for Catholic and independent schools – particularly when they were under attack in 2004 – has ensured that equitable funding arrangements are now embedded in Australia’s education policy.
In 2014, Pope Francis appointed Pell as the head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy. No other Australian has risen to a higher position in the Catholic Church.
A fierce defender of the Catholic faith and Christian ideals, Dr Pell made friends – and enemies – along the way.
On his passing, the fact he spent a year in prison for a conviction that the High Court of Australia unanimously quashed should provide some cause for reflection for the Victorian Labor Government and its institutions that led this modern-day political persecution.
Pell never lost faith in his God, his country, and in justice – despite the tests and trials he endured in life.
Cardinal George Pell DD AC – requiescat in pace.
11 January 2023