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 Ultima Commendatio and Valedictio rites.
By Amedeo Lomonaco
The Requiem Mass of Cardinal George Pell, prefect emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, who died suddenly on January 10, 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 sudden end of Cardinal George Pell’s earthly life took us all by surprise.”
The late Australian-born cardinal “was present with us to celebrate the funeral Mass of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the forecourt of the Basilica and, despite his 81 years, he appeared to be in good health”.
Funeral Mass of Cardinal Pell
Cardinal Pell suffered, but trusted God
Cardinal Re then recalled that the last years of the life of the late Cardinal Pell “were marked by an unjust and painful sentence”.
“In June 2017, he was charged with 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, Cardinal Dean noted, the Australian High Court exonerated Cardinal Pell in April 2020, overturning the guilty verdict.
“His was an experience of great suffering endured with faith in God’s judgment,” Cardinal Re said, saying it offered an example of how to accept even unjust punishments with dignity and inner peace.
Faith and prayer, Cardinal Dean added, were of great comfort and support to Cardinal Pell during that difficult time.
“To make known how much faith and prayer help us in difficult moments of life and also to support those who have to suffer unjustly,” said Cardinal Re, “he published a diary written during his long days in jail.
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 a great consistency of doctrine, which he always defended without hesitation and courage, concerned only to be faithful to Christ”. “
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Pope Francis presided over the Ultima Commendatio and Valedictio rites.
Pope Francis presides over the last rites