Must stand trial: Cardinal George Pell © Stefan Postles
Australian Cardinal George Pell was prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy and thus a kind of "finance minister to the pope". He was the highest-ranking Catholic cleric to date to be convicted of sexual abuse.
However, this Tuesday (local time), Australia's Supreme Court in Brisbane acquitted him due to procedural flaws.
A jury had found Pell, 78, guilty in February 2019 of sexually abusing a choirboy and molesting another in the mid-1990s. However, the conviction was based on only one testimony. Other lawsuits were pending. The cardinal always denied all accusations.
Studied in Rome and Oxford
Pell was elected on 8. Born June 1941 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, and ordained priest at age 25. With clerical career, he decided against possible career as a rugby player. His further studies in Rome and Oxford led him to a doctorate in church history.
After several stations in pastoral care and higher education, Pope John Paul II appointed him in 1987. (1978-2005) as auxiliary bishop in Melbourne and archbishop there in 1996. In 2001, Pell was promoted again – to Sydney, the capital of Australian libertinism. From there, too, he repeatedly spoke out with pithy conservative statements on topics such as homosexuality, bioethics and the environment.
Host of the World Youth Day 2008
Pell came into the world church limelight at the latest as host of the World Youth Day in Sydney 2008. In February 2014, Pope Francis made him head of the newly established Vatican Secretariat for the Economy. However, due to the abuse allegations, the cardinal had already been on leave as chief financial officer since June 2017.
As a member of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1990-2000), Pell was among the closest advisers to the then prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI. (2005-2013). Among the candidates to succeed him as prefect, his name was mentioned in 2005.