Pope Francis has praised the witness, dedication, and faith of Cardinal George Pell, who died in Rome on Tuesday at the age of 81.
“I offer sentiments of heartfelt condolence,” the pope said in a Jan. 11 message, “remembering with a grateful heart his consistent and committed witness, his dedication to the Gospel and the Church, and particularly his diligent cooperation with the Holy See in the context of its recent economic reform, of which he laid the foundations with determination and wisdom.”
Cardinal Pell, prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, suffered a cardiac arrest and died at 8:50 p.m. Rome time on Jan. 10, following a routine hip replacement surgery, his secretary confirmed to EWTN.
Pope Francis’ telegram expressed his sorrow at the Australian prelate’s death, and assured Cardinal Pell’s brother, David Pell, of his sympathy.
“I raise prayers of suffrage so that this faithful servant, who without wavering followed his Lord with perseverance even in his hour of trial, may be welcomed into the joy of heaven and receive the reward of eternal peace,” the pope said.
The prime minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, said a memorial Mass will be held for Cardinal Pell at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, where he will be buried, according to Sky News Australia.
The bells of St. Mary’s Cathedral tolled 81 times on Jan. 11 to mark the cardinal’s death.
Cardinal Pell’s funeral Mass will be held at the Vatican. The date has not yet been announced.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said Jan. 11 his predecessor “will be remembered as a courageous leader who inspired so many clergy and lay faithful around the world to proclaim Christ crucified, risen and with us still.”
“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 said.
The archbishop said he was grateful to have had an opportunity to see Pell at the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Jan. 5.
The former archbishop of Sydney “fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel and worked to explain the teachings of the Church,” Archbishop Fisher said. “He spoke truth as he found it, however difficult or unpopular. He was also a man of prayer, of deep Christian faith and a loving shepherd to his flock in parishes, schools, hospitals, and throughout his dioceses.”