Tributes flow in for Cardinal George Pell

As the news of Cardinal Pell’s unexpected passing broke, tributes from across all circles, internationally and domestically came flowing in.
Cardinal Pell at St Patrick's Cathedral Parramatta in 2011.

Yesterday, Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Dean of the College of Cardinals, expressing his sadness at the news of his passing, and Pell’s closeness to the Dean and the entire College of Cardinals.

Pope Francis recalled Pell’s “consistent and committed witness, his dedication to the Gospel and to the Church, and particularly his diligent cooperation with the Holy See in its recent economic reform, for which he laid the foundations with determination and wisdom.” Pope Francis said he is praying for:

“This faithful servant, who unwaveringly followed his Lord with perseverance even in the hour of trial, may be received into the joy of heaven and receive the reward of eternal peace.”

In Australia, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who had a close relationship with Cardinal Pell especially after working together on World Youth Day Sydney 2008, referenced Pell’s legacy in his homily yesterday at a mass dedicated to the Cardinal. He was “Australia’s most prominent ever churchman, having provided strong and clear leadership within the Catholic Church in Australia, as Archbishop of Melbourne and Archbishop of Sydney.” In a statement released last night, Archbishop Fisher stated that Cardinal Pell was “a fine priest, a good Christian soul.”

“Cardinal Pell’s episcopal motto was ‘Be Not Afraid’ and through good days and bad, he lived up to these words as a man of courage and with a big heart, who trusted in divine providence.” Archbishop Fisher recalls Cardinal Pell’s impact on the Archdiocese of Sydney, where he was Archbishop from 2001 to 2014.

“The Archdiocese of Sydney thrived under his leadership. He saw great promise in youth, and his vision in bringing World Youth Day 2008 to Sydney saw a whole generation of young Catholics respond to Christ’s call. Our community as a whole was uplifted by this colossal event and moved by the testimony it offered.”  

Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli said “Cardinal Pell was a very significant and influential church leader, both in Australia and internationally, deeply committed to Christian discipleship. At this immediate moment, let our prayers go out to the God of Jesus Christ, whom cardinal Pell wholeheartedly believed in and followed, that he may be welcomed into eternal life.”

Archbishop of Perth and President of the ACBC, Timothy Costelloe SDB echoed this sentiment “His many strengths were widely recognised, both in Australia and around the world, as his Vatican appointments as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and as a member of the Council of Cardinals, an advisory group to Pope Francis, testify. Cardinal Pell’s impact on the life of the Church in Australia and around the world will continue to be felt for many years. As we remember him and reflect on his legacy, I invite all Catholics and other people of goodwill to join in praying for Cardinal Pell, a man of deep and abiding faith, and for the repose of his soul.”

Our Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long OFM Conv also sends his condolences:

“I join with Cardinal Pell’s family, friends and all in the wider church and society as they mourn his loss. May Christ Jesus reward this remarkable priest and bishop who used his great gifts of intelligence, administration, energy and fidelity for the good of so many. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese extended his sympathies to everyone mourning his death. “For many people, particularly of Catholic faith, this will be a difficult day and I express my condolences to all those who are mourning today. This will come as a shock to many.”

Former Prime Ministers also spoke about the sudden news of his death. Former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard said that Pell’s death was an “enormous” loss to the Catholic Church and the nation. “I liked and respected the late Cardinal a lot. His passing is a great loss to the intellectual and spiritual life of our country.”

Tony Abbott, Former Prime Minister said that “Australia has lost a great son and the church has lost a great leader with the passing of George Pell. The cardinal was a committed defender of Catholic orthodoxy and a staunch advocate for the virtues of western civilisation.”

Bishop of Winona-Rochester (Sothern Minnesota, USA) Robert Barron said that “Pell effectively changed the profile of Catholicism in Australia, bringing that Chruch into line with the vision of St. Pope John Paul II. Smart, articulate, bold at times even a bit swaggering, Cardinal Pell was a confident conversation partners with contemporary secularism in its various manifestations.” 

Read more from the Vatican News:

Updates on his funeral arrangements to come.

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