CNA, CBJ—The late Cardinal George Pell’s funeral Mass drew thousands of mourners, filling Sydney’s St. Mary’s Cathedral to capacity.
Civic leaders, friends and members of Pell’s family remembered the Australian cardinal’s dedication to the Church and the Gospel, in addition to his courage in the face of many obstacles, including more than a year in prison before his exoneration.
Cardinal Pell’s brother speaks
“George Pell was my brother. He was a prince of the Church. A good and holy man, and a proud Australian,” David Pell said at the cardinal’s funeral Mass Thursday, according to The Catholic Weekly newspaper.
“’Be not afraid’ was George’s motto. These words are mentioned in the Bible 365 times,” Pell’s brother continued. “They are powerful words and need to be remembered by us as we continue the daily struggle.”
Addressing the cardinal, he added: “You have fought the good fight. Help us to accept the battle. Rest in peace.”
The cardinal died Jan. 10 in Rome at the age of 81 from cardiac arrest following complications during hip surgery.
Sydney’s Archbishop Fisher
Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney celebrated the Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial at Sydney’s St. Mary’s Cathedral. The four-hour liturgy included a specially composed offertory motet by Sir James MacMillan based on the cardinal’s motto “Be Not Afraid” and the text of Wisdom 3:1–4.
Attending the funeral were 30 bishops, 220 priests, and dozens of seminarians. The congregation included women religious, theologians, Catholic school teachers, and families. Representatives of Catholic agencies and ethnic communities were at the Mass, as were the residents of David’s Place, a community for the homeless and marginalized in Sydney.
Lion of the Church
Fisher in his homily described his predecessor Pell as a “lion of the Church” who proclaimed the Gospel “shamelessly, vehemently, courageously to the end.”
“He had a big heart, too, strong enough to fight for the faith and endure persecution but soft enough to care for priests, youth, the homeless, prisoners, and imperfect Christians,” the archbishop said.