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Cardinal George Pell's funeral mass to be held at St Peter's Basilica on Saturday. This is what we know

A mass will be held for Cardinal George Pell at the Vatican on Saturday, following his death in Rome on Wednesday. 

He died at the age of 81 from heart complications after hip replacement surgery.

Cardinal Pell — who was in charge of Vatican finances between 2014 and 2019 — was jailed in Australia for child sexual abuse in 2019, but vigorously maintained his innocence and had his convictions quashed more than a year later.

Let's take a look at who will preside over the funeral at the Vatican and what will happen next. 

Where will the funeral take place?

Cardinal Pell's funeral mass will be held at the Altar of the Cathedral in St Peter's Basilica at 11:30am on Saturday, local time. 

Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re — the dean of the college of cardinals — will officiate at the mass. 

Cardinal Battista Re has said he was saddened by the news of Cardinal Pell's sudden death.

Church sources said it was likely Cardinal Pell's body would lie in state in a side chapel in St Peter's Basilica ahead of the mass.

Will Pope Francis be involved in the funeral?

As is custom for cardinal funerals, Pope Francis will deliver a final commendation and salute during the funeral mass.

Pope Francis has paid tribute to Pell as a "faithful servant who, without vacillating, followed his Lord with perseverance even in the hour of trial". 

The pope said he was grateful for Cardinal Pell's "coherent and committed" dedication to the church.

What will happen to Cardinal Pell's body after the funeral?

Cardinal Pell's body will be repatriated to Sydney and join seven other former archbishops whose remains are buried in the crypt below St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney's CBD. 

A timeline for the burial has not yet been confirmed. 

The crypt, built in the 1930s, is the resting place of some of the most high-profile Australian Catholic figures.

Premiers say no to state funeral 

A service in memory of George Pell was held on Thursday in Ballarat, where he was born. 

The announcement of a funeral mass at the Vatican follows news that New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, both Catholics, each confirming on Thursday there would not be a state funeral for Cardinal Pell.

Cardinal Pell served as archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, and then as the archbishop of Sydney in 2001.

"I think, more importantly, [this] will be a very challenging time for victim-survivors," Mr Andrews said.


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