The Australian cardinal succumbed to a suspected heart attack following hip replacement surgery in Rome, according to his secretary.
Cardinal George Pell has died in Rome this evening at the age of 81.
The Australian cardinal had been admitted to a Rome hospital for routine hip replacement surgery on Tuesday afternoon.
The operation was successful and he was in good spirits, but he later suffered a suspected cardiac arrest, according to his personal secretary, Father Joseph Hamilton, who added that they are awaiting an autopsy.
He also confirmed that a funeral Mass will be offered in Rome, and he will be buried in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.
The Archdiocese of Sydney is expected to issue a statement shortly.
On his Facebook page, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said: “It is with deep sadness that I can confirm His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell, passed away in Rome.”
“This news comes as a great shock to all of us,” he added. “Please pray for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Pell, for comfort and consolation for his family and for all of those who loved him and are grieving him at this time.”
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Pell the Vatican’s first prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in 2014 in a move to help clear up Vatican finances after a series of highly publicized scandals.
But after making significant progress, his work was cut short in 2017 when he was charged with multiple counts of historical child sexual assault that allegedly had occurred when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
Strenuously denying the charges, he returned to Australia to clear his name but was subsequently convicted and jailed for six years. He was later freed in April 2020 by Australia’s highest court in a unanimous decision.
READ ON BELOW…BREAKING: Cardinal George Pell Dies at 81| National Catholic Register