Sydney, Australia, Jan 12 (EFE).- The Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria ruled out Thursday holding a state funeral for Cardinal George Pell, sentenced and lateral acquitted of pedophilia, out of respect for the survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
“There won’t be a state memorial service (…) I couldn’t think of anything that would be more distressing for victim-survivors” of child sexual abuse in the Australian Catholic Church, said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, according to state broadcaster ABC.
Pell, who passed away late Tuesday, was from the state of Victoria, where several minors were abused when was a priest there.
On his part, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet confirmed Thursday that they will not hold a state funeral for the Cardinal either.
“There will be a memorial service and that is currently being arranged by the Archdiocese,” said, without giving further details.
The Australian Cardinal, appointed prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in 2014, died in Rome, where a mass was held in his honor before his remains were sent back to Australia.
Despite being the highest-ranking Catholic official in Australia, Pell’s image is stained with accusations of child sexual abuse that caused a large scandal worldwide.
He spent three months in prison after his first sentence in 2018 for sexually abusing two minors in the 1990s until he was acquitted in April of 2020.
Pell, born in Ballarat – about 110 kilometers (68.3 miles) west of Melbourne in Victoria state -, was ordained a priest that led him on a long career that saw him become the archbishop of Melbourne (1996) and Sydney (2001).
A special commission looking into abuse committed by religious officials said in 2015 that up to 14 priests in Ballarat had sexually abused children and there were at least 130 substantiated complaints since 1980.
This official investigation, which received some 4,500 complaints against more than 1,800 religious officials for sexual abuse committed between 1985 and 2015, revealed in 2017 that Pell was “aware” of the problem in the church.
Pell always denied the allegation, despite acknowledging that in the 1980s “a world of crime and cover-ups” existed in the Catholic church to protect the institution.
Andrews, who offered his condolences to Pell’s family and friends, looked back on the abuse victims.
“We see you, we believe you, we support you and you are at the center of not only our thoughts, not only our words, but our actions,” the Premier said at a press conference.
Meanwhile, a mass was held on Thursday in memory of Pell at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat, ABC reported.
Pell will be buried at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, capital of New South Wales, on a date yet to be determined.
Neither New South Wales authorities, nor the federal government has announced a state funeral for the Cardinal. EFE