Pope Francis mourns Australian cardinal Pell

Pope Francis mourns Australian cardinal Pell
Pope Francis gestures on a wheelchair as he gives his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on January 11, 2023. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Pope Francis offered his prayers Wednesday for the late Australian Cardinal George Pell, saying he kept his faith even while being tested.

Pell, who died Tuesday in Rome aged 81, was a giant of the Catholic Church who was convicted and later cleared of sexual abuse in Australia.

In a telegram to the dean of the college of cardinals, Francis paid tribute to Pell’s “committed witness, his dedication to the gospel and to the Church”.

He noted particularly his work with the Holy See in the context of its recent economic reform, for which “he laid the foundations with determination and wisdom”.

He prayed that Pell, “this faithful servant, who without wavering followed his Lord with determination even in a time of trial, be welcomed in the joy of heaven and receive the award of eternal peace”.

From humble beginnings in regional Australia, Pell climbed the ranks to become one of Francis’ most trusted advisers inside the Vatican.

He was also the highest-ranking Catholic to be imprisoned for child sexual abuse, before his convictions were quashed on appeal.