VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis gave Cardinal George Pell’s blessing at a funeral on Saturday after it was revealed that he wrote an anonymous note describing the current papacy as a “disaster” hanging in the air alongside incense.
About 300 people attended Pell’s funeral service in the secondary chapel of St Peter’s Basilica. In keeping with the traditions of the deceased cardinals, the Italian Dean of the College of Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re said the Mass.
Francis made it to the end to offer his last blessing in Latin on the dark brown wooden coffin on the floor. The coffin was angry and sprinkled with holy water.
Rey’s words were less an homily than they were an autobiography for Bell, 81, who died Tuesday night in a Rome hospital of heart failure during hip replacement surgery.
Ri stated that Pell spent more than a year in prison before he was cleared of allegations of sexual assault in his native Australia in 2020.
“The last years of his life were marked by unjust and painful condemnation,” Ra said.
SNAP, an advocacy group for victims of clerical sexual abuse, called in the statement for the Vatican to show “restraint” in funeral arrangements “unless the hierarchical church wants to deepen already deep wounds.”
But Peel was given the state Vatican funeral for a cardinal. Re began the service by reading the full text of a message the pope released on Wednesday praising Peel for his perseverance in difficult times.
The brief conversation after the funeral, especially among diplomats and journalists, centered around the bomb revelation.
Last year, respected Italian journalist Sandro Magister, who has a long track record of receiving leaked Vatican documents, published an anonymous note circulating in the Vatican condemning Pope Francis’ papacy as a “disaster.”
The day after Bell’s death, Magister revealed on his widely circulated blog Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) that it was Bell who wrote the note and gave him permission to publish it under the pseudonym “Demos” – Greek for the general public. It included what the author said the qualities of the next pope should be.
The memorandum begins “The commentators of every school, if for different reasons… agree that this papacy is in many or in most ways a disaster; a disaster.”
It stated that “the first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normalcy, to restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, to restore proper respect for the law, and to ensure that the first criterion for the nomination of bishops is the acceptance of the Apostolic Tradition.” .
Father Joseph Hamilton, Pell’s personal secretary, declined to comment on the MA report and Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no comment.
Hamilton told Reuters after the funeral that Pell’s body would be flown to Australia early next week for burial in the crypt at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral, where he served as archbishop.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella) Editing by Mark Potter
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