Pope Francis and George Pell © Vatican Media/Romano Siciliani (KNA)
Australian Cardinal George Pell celebrated Mass in Rome publicly again for the first time on Saturday, according to media reports. In April, he had been acquitted of charges of sexual abuse due to insufficient evidence.
As the magazine "America" (online edition) reported, Pell celebrated the service in the church of the "Domus Australia," a hotel built at his suggestion for Australian pilgrims in Rome. The occasion was the tenth anniversary of the canonization of Mary MacKillop. Australian religious (1842-1909) is the first saint of the fifth continent.
Service with invited guests only
Invited to the service, which according to "America" was attended only by invited guests, was also Australia's new ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro. At no point in the service had Pell referred to the events of the past three years.
Among those attending the service was Australia's former prime minister, Tony Abbott, who is considered a friend of Pell's but was in Rome for other reasons. In addition, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, and her husband Newt were present.
Return after court proceedings
Pell had been sentenced to 30 years in prison. September returned to Rome. Pope Francis received him in a private audience on Monday. In July 2017, Pell, the former head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, had left the Vatican to face a trial for sexual abuse in his home country.
After initially being convicted in two instances and spending some 400 days in prison, he was acquitted in early April by Australia's Supreme Court for insufficient evidence.