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Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81 after surgery

Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81 after surgery

He was Australia's highest ranking member in the Catholic Church when he served as the top finance minister.

Cardinal George Pell has died at the age of 81.

Australia's highest ranking member of the Catholic Church died after complications from a hip replacement surgery, according to the EWTN Vatican news service.

The former Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne stepped down from his post as the Church's top finance minister in 2017 when he had to stand trial for child abuse offences in Australia.

He was found guilty the following year of historical child sex abuse offences, however he always maintained he was innocent.

The High Court eventually overturned the convictions in 2020 and Pell was allowed to leave prison.

After he was acquitted of child sexual abuse convictions, he returned to live in the Vatican.

In a 2021 interview, the Cardinal says Pope Francis supported him and encouraged him to come back to the holy country.

“When I was in jail I asked my secretary to pack up my belongings here, especially my books and send them home," he said to Irish reporter Colm Flynn.

“The word came down from on high to leave the apartment here for me when I might return.”

Pell also opened up about what life was like when he was locked up in an Australian jail.

“Jail is undignified, you’re at the bottom of the pit, you’re humiliated, but by and large I was treated decently,” he said.

“The worst single thing I think were the strip searches, the brief humiliating, the ignominy of it is probably the worst of it.

“I wasn’t too uncomfortable, a firm base for a bed, a hot shower and that’s very important to Australians, the food, there was too much of it.”

Featured Image Credit: Richard Milnes / Alamy Stock Photo. ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Australia