Cardinal George Pell Dies At 81

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Catholic Cardinal George Pell died in Rome, Italy, on Tuesday at the age of 81 due to complications from a hip replacement surgery.

The Australian cardinal’s personal secretary, Father Joseph Hamilton, said Pell was admitted to a hospital where he underwent the surgery, but later suffered a suspected cardiac arrest following the procedure, the National Catholic Register reported. An autopsy of his death is currently being awaited.

Pell served as the Vatican finance minister and adviser to Pope Francis before being removed over accusations that he sexually abused minors. An Australian jury unanimously convicted Pell in December 2018 on five charges in connection to allegedly forcing a 13-year-old choirboy to perform oral sex and of inappropriately touching another boy of the same age in the 1990s. The sentence made him the highest-ranking member to receive this type of conviction in court, according to BBC News.

The court sentenced him to a maximum of 10 years in prison for the five charges, but Pell was later released in 2020 after a successful appeal to the High Court of Australia, according to BBC News. The high court ruled that the lower court relied too heavily on the testimony brought by one of the accusers, which raised the possibility that “the offending had not taken place.” The cardinal has always denied the charges brought against him. (RELATED: Alleged Sex Abuse Victims Testify Via Video Link Against Australian Cardinal)

One of the choirboys died of a heroin overdose in 2014, while the other remains living, the outlet reported. The deceased choirboy’s father filed a civil claim against the cardinal and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in the Supreme Court of Victoria, BBC noted.