Pope Francis will deliver a final send-off for Cardinal George Pell during a funeral Mass on Saturday, the Vatican said, as revelations emerge of the Australian prelate’s growing concern about what he considered the “disaster” and “catastrophe” of the papacy under Francis.
The Vatican on Thursday said the dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, would celebrate Pell’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. As is custom for cardinal funerals, Francis will deliver a final commendation and salute.
Pell, who had served as Francis’ first finance minister for three years before returning to Australia to face child sex abuse charges, died on Tuesday at a Rome hospital of heart complications following hip surgery. He was 81.
He had been dividing his time between Rome and Sydney after he was exonerated in 2020 of allegations he molested two choirboys while he was archbishop of Melbourne. Australia’s High Court overturned an earlier court conviction, and Pell was freed after serving 404 days in solitary confinement.
Pell had clashed repeatedly with the Vatican’s Italian bureaucracy during his 2014-2017 term as prefect of the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Economy, which Francis created to try to get a handle on the Vatican’s opaque finances. In his telegram of condolence, Francis credited Pell with having laid the groundwork for the reforms underway, which have included imposing international standards for budgeting and accounting on Vatican offices.
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