Top Australian Catholic cleric George Pell dies at 88

Cardinal George Pell for burial Feb
A photograph of late Cardinal George Pell

Former Vatican treasurer and Australia’s highest ranking Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, is dead.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the cleric was said to have died of heart complications after hip surgery.

Prior to becoming one of the Pope’s closest advisors, Cardinal Pell served as the Archbishop of both Melbourne and Sydney.

He was frequently referred to as the third-ranking official in the Church until he was called to Rome in 2014 to clean up the Vatican’s finances.

The cleric, however, abandoned his position in 2017 and went back to Australia to stand trial for alleged child sex assault.

In 2018, a jury concluded that he had assaulted two boys in the 1990s while serving as Melbourne’s archbishop.

Prior to the High Court of Australia overturning the decision in 2020, Cardinal Pell, who consistently maintained his innocence, served 13 months in prison.