The death of Cardinal Pell following surgery has been a shock in that he was apparently fit and active at the time of the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI only last week.
He is being hailed as the most important Australian Catholic of the past century, and continues to attract both positive and hostile comments. His conviction and imprisonment appeared utterly scandalous, an aberration of the Australian legal system, and on this blog I compared it to events in Central Europe in the late 1940s.
On one of his visits to Oxford, following a votive Mass for the canonisation of John Henry Newman I did meet him and requested his blessing. On that same visit I also attended Solemn Vespers in Merton Chapel at which he presided at the throne.
On occasions of his other Oxford visits to the Oratory I had to rely on livestream as, for example, only last year to celebrate and preach for St Philip’s Day. Then, as with the interviews he gave following his release from prison, I was impressed by his insight, his humility, his humour, his prayerful theology and his Christian charity. From stories I have heard he could also be a forceful father-in-God to his flock - he was not an Australian for nothing…
To my mind and memory he was in all senses an impressive figure, indeed a towering figure when attired in pontificals.
May he rest in peace.
In relation to his death Rorate Cæli has a post about Cardinal Pell linked to the last article he wrote, which was for The Spectator, and it can be read at “The Catholic Church must free itself from this ‘toxic nightmare’” — Cardinal Pells’ final public statement