Pope Francis participates in the funeral Mass of the late Cardinal Pell Pope Francis participates in the funeral Mass of the late Cardinal Pell  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Cardinal Re: Faith sustained late Cardinal Pell in difficult final years

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re celebrates the funeral Mass of the late Australian Cardinal George Pell, with Pope Francis presiding over the rites of Ultima Commendatio and Valedictio.

By Amedeo Lomonaco

The Requiem Mass of Cardinal George Pell, prefect emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, who died unexpectedly on 10 January, was celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday.

In his homily at the funeral, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, recalled that "the unexpected end of Cardinal George Pell's earthly life took us all by surprise.”

The late Australian-born Cardinal "was present with us to concelebrate the funeral Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the parvis of the Basilica and, despite his 81 years, he seemed in good health."

Funeral Mass of Cardinal Pell
Funeral Mass of Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell suffered but trusted in God

Cardinal Re then recalled that the last years of the late Cardinal Pell's life "were marked by an unjust and painful condemnation."

“In June 2017, he was accused of sexual abuse in Australia, and the trial resulted in a prison sentence,” he said. “Cardinal Pell spent 404 days in the cells of two maximum security prisons, in Melbourne and then in Barwon, including a period of solitary confinement."

Then, noted the Cardinal Dean, the Australian High Court exonerated Cardinal Pell in April 2020 by overturning the guilty verdict.

"His was an experience of great suffering endured with confidence in God's judgment," said Cardinal Re, saying it offered an example of how to accept even unjust punishments with dignity and inner peace.

Faith and prayer, added the Cardinal Dean, were of great comfort and support to Cardinal Pell during that difficult time.

"In order to make known how much faith and prayer assist us in the difficult moments of life and also to support those who must unjustly suffer," said Cardinal Re, "he published a diary written during his long days in prison.”

Cardinal Re celebrated the Funeral Mass
Cardinal Re celebrated the Funeral Mass

A man of God

Finally, Cardinal Re emphasized that the late Cardinal Pell was a "man of God and man of the Church characterized by a deep faith and great steadfastness of doctrine, which he always defended without hesitation and with courage, concerned only with being faithful to Christ.”

At the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration, Pope Francis presided over the rites of the Ultima Commendatio and Valedictio.

Pope Francis presides over the last rites
Pope Francis presides over the last rites

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14 January 2023, 13:57