The Vatican’s former Minister of the Economy and Finance, Cardinal George Pell, 79, is expected in Rome this week, confirmed the diocese of Sydney (Reuters’ Katrina Lee) on September 28, 2020, after the news appeared in the Herald Sun (Andrew Bolt).
However, the Holy See has not confirmed the news and, for the time being, has not announced a meeting with Pope Francis.
This will be the Cardinal’s first visit to Rome, after an absence of more than three years, and after being acquitted of charges of sexual abuse in Australia.
Cardinal Pell left Rome in June of 2017, with “permission” to respond to the charges of alleged sexual aggression in Australian Courts going back to the end of the decade of the 90s. He remained nominally as Prefect of the Economic Affairs Secretariat until 2019. He was also a member of the Council of Cardinals.
Declared culpable in December of 2018, he was released on April 7, 2020, after more than 400 days in prison. The Australian High Court annulled the sentence. The Australian Cardinal has been living in Sydney since his release.
The purpose of his trip to Rome and the duration of his stay are unknown. In 2019, after his conviction in the first instance, the Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would handle his case “in keeping with the modes and deadlines established by canonical norms. What is the situation now, given that the Australian Cardinal has been acquitted by his country’s courts?
This return is taking place also in difficult circumstances for Pope Francis, who spoke of a “bad time” at the Angelus on Sunday and it seems the allusion was not just meteorological: on Thursday, September 24, he removed his friend Cardinal Angelo Becciu, up to now Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for suspicion of embezzlement, according to the Italian press; however, the charges have yet to be formulated officially.
The Sardinian Cardinal has protested his innocence and has received the total support of the Bishops of Sardinia.
Cardinal Pell headed the financial reform desired by Pope Francis in the Vatican.