Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

Cardinal George Pell funeral held in Sydney as protesters, mourners clash outside — as it happened

A requiem mass is being held for the late Cardinal George Pell at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney today.

Hundreds of mourners lined up in the hot Sydney weather to attend the funeral, singing hymns as they waited.

Police separated protesters, who were chanting in Hyde Park, from the congregation.

Read a wrap of today's events here.

Key events

Live updates

Thanks for reading

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

That's it from us today.

Thanks to all who've followed along during the mass and protests.

It's been a day of high emotion and tension both mourners, the cardinal's family,  protesters and the families of sexual abuse victims around the country.

Cardinal George Pell will soon lay to rest below St Mary's Cathedral.

Mourners at St Mary's

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

 Along with former prime ministers and the federal Liberal Leader, Cardinal Pell's funeral was attended by high-profile media personalities.

News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt and radio presenter Alan Jones were sat among the pews.

Giovanni Portelli snapped these pictures from inside for the Archdiocese of Sydney

Into the crypt

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

The hearse carrying Cardinal Pell's body has descended toward the crypt under St Mary's Cathedral.

He will be the eighth former Sydney archbishop to be buried there.

Cardinal Pell served as the eighth archbishop of Sydney between 2001 and 2014, when he left to take over the Vatican's finances.

For more about the crypt at St Mary's, you can read more here.

Cardinal Pell's casket carried from cathedral

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

 The casket of Cardinal Pell has left the cathedral, carried by clergy into the back of a waiting hearse.

People are lining the street outside St Mary's to get a glimpse of the former archbishop of Sydney's final journey.

A police officer on a bike could be seen stopping a person holding a sign from reaching the hearse.

The procession is now heading down College Street.

'The last farewell'

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

 Archishop Fisher has finished the requiem mass.

And now we come to the last farewell.

There is sadness in parting.

but we take comfort in the hope that one day we will see him again and enjoy his friendship.

Cardinal Pell's casket will soon be carried to a hearse waiting outside the cathedral.

People in religious outfits stand around a hearse

Abbott says Pell became 'scapegoat for the church itself'

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

The former prime minister says Cardinal Pell had been "wronged in life" but kept his faith and did not succumb to anger or despair.

He says the late cardinal had accepted a "modern crucifixion" and believes he was a "saint for our times".

He was made a scapegoat for the church itself.

He should never have been investigated in the absence of a complaint.

He should never have been charged in the absence of corroborating evidence.

And he should never have been convicted in the absence of a plausible case, as the High Court so resoundingly made plain.

Abbott says Cardinal Pell 'one of country's greatest sons'

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

Key Event

The former prime minister Tony Abbott is now speaking.

He says Cardinal Pell was a "thinker, leader, a Christian warrior and a proud Australian".

This funeral is less a sad farewell to a great friend, and more a joyous tribute to a great hero.

It's a celebration of a wonderful life.

A once-in-a-generation gathering of the people of faith to rededicate ourselves to the ideals George Pell lived for. 

Mr Abbott said Cardinal Pell was the first Australian Catholic to sack child abusers and report them to police.

"He's the greatest catholic Australia has produced and one of our country's greatest sons."

Pell family abhorred at 'evil'

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

David Pell says his brother was an innocent man who was "falsely convicted for his predecessor's failings".

Mr Pell acknowledged the pain of families who had been victims of abuse perpetrated by "evil" church members.

We sympathise with the legitimate victims and are at complete abhorrence at the criminals.

Our own family has not been immune to this evil.

Mr Pell said the "regularly reported" line that his brother lacked sympathy for victims was "simply not true".

"We had to be stoic against the relentless campaign to smear George and his life," he said.

Cardinal Pell's brother speaks

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

The late cardinal's brother, David Pell, has spoken about George's life and tribulations.

He says Cardinal Pell was a "prince of the church, a good and holy man and a proud Australian".

"He believed in the rule of law, a fair goal to all, and in Aussie rules parlance, he played the ball and not the man," he said.

"He may have disagreed with your opinion but he didn't disagree with you as a person.

"He was falsely accused, tried, convicted and spent 404 days in solitary confinement."

Pell remembered fondly by friends

By Carla Hildebrandt

George Pell has been remembered during his funeral as a great man of the Catholic Church.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said Cardinal Pell was a great churchman who made an invaluable contribution to the Catholic Church in Australia.

He will be buried in the crypt beneath St Mary's Cathedral alongside seven other former archbishops of Sydney.

ABC News reporter Kathleen Calderwood 

Archbishop Fisher jokes about Pell's character

By Carla Hildebrandt

"If some experienced him as demanding, futilistic or polarising, and others as faithful, hospitable and's now the turn of the saints to endure his teasing, lecturing and commands."

Cardinal Pell's jail time an 'extended spiritual retreat'

By Carla Hildebrandt

Archbishop Fisher spoke of Cardinal Pell's "404 days in solitary confinement" in a Melbourne prison, which he called his "extended spiritual retreat".

And continued to say: "Jesus told his disciples not to be surprised if the world hated them, because it hated him first.

"So the Cardinal accepted his fate with forgiveness...forbidden even to say mass privately in his cell, he found a new Apostolate, fulfilling Jesus' call to visit and proclaim mercy to prisoners as he corresponded with inmates from his cell."

Protest march ends, one arrested

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

Our reporter Tim Swanston says the protest march has ended at Taylor Square where speeches were made to the crowd.

Mourners in black held up crosses and beads as they clashed with protesters.

One man was arrested along the protest route.

Those who marched waved rainbow and red flags, expressing their frustration and anger over Cardinal Pell's funeral.

Tim captured these shots while LGBT protesters and supporters of Cardinal Pell were separated by police.

Police stand in front of protestersA woman speaks into a megaphoneMarchers hold rainbow flags

Archbishop says Pell 'admired and hated'

By Carla Hildebrandt

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said George Pell was patriotic and supported young people.

"While he rose to international prominence and roles, he remained an Australian to the end.

"George devoted much energy to building up young people through education, evangelistic, youth ministry, vocational discernment...

"The cardinal was an erudite preacher and public commentator, admired and hated for his willingness to contend with the culture on behalf of Christ and his church."

'When God acquits, could anyone condemn?'

By Carla Hildebrandt

A photo of Cardinal Pell was erected to the right of the mass.

The procession bowed and paid their respects at Cardinal Pell's coffin as they arrived at the alter.

Australian Catholic University's Dr Michael Casey read:

"Could anyone accuse those who God has chosen. When God acquits, could anyone condemn?"

Incense was burned while the Deacon read a Gospel.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher highlighted Cardinal Pell's "enormous contributions to this great nation".

He remembered George Pell as a bold churchman who went all the way from Ballarat to the Vatican.

Protesters and mourners clash outside funeral

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

Key Event

The ABC's Kathleen Calderwood has this report from outside St Mary's Cathedral.

There's been an angry clash between protesters and some mourners at the protest passed near the cathedral courtyard.

For about 10 minutes the sound of the protesters drowned out the proceedings for those watching from the courtyard and a group of men yelled angrily at protesters and at police, telling them to move the rally on.

See Kathleen's tweet here. Warning: foul language.

The protest march has since left Hyde Park and headed up Oxford Street.

Hurt by 'pain and division'

By Carla Hildebrandt

Chrissie Foster's two daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest who was moved from parish to parish by the Church hierarchy, which was aware of allegations against him.

She and her late husband Anthony met with Cardinal Pell in the late 1990s to discuss the predatory priest, Father Kevin O'Donnell, but were stone-walled and treated dismissively by the cardinal, she said.

This morning Mrs Foster was tying a ribbon to the fence surrounding the parish church where O'Donnell abused her daughters. She said she did not understand how Cardinal Pell could be likened to a saint or martyr by his defenders.

"He's caused a lot of disruption and division and that's continuing now, today. I think his legacy was to bury the truth. He did that all along. It was a cover up of their cover up," Mrs Foster said.

"The people who are saying these things obviously haven't spent one day in the Royal Commission or read their reports and they need to.

"George Pell should have a funeral, yes, but I think the things they are saying should be curbed, because there's another reality there, other than what they're saying, and they're ignoring that and that's what hurts."

By ABC News senior reporter Daniel Oakes

Former prime minister, Opposition Leader among funeral attendees

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

Former prime minister John Howard is in attendance at Cardinal Pell's funeral.

Mr Howard spoke of his "great respect" for the late cardinal when the 81-year-old died last month.

The federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is also in Sydney for the funeral.

Mr Dutton courted controversy when he described Cardinal Pell's conviction - and subsequent acquittal - of child sex abuse charges "political persecution".

Proceedings begin at St Mary's Cathedral

By Carla Hildebrandt

Key Event

Attendees stand to watch clergyman dressed in white file into the church while hymns are sung. 

They bow and pay their respects at Cardinal Pell's coffin, before leaving the stage.

It is a sombre start to the event with a serious and sad tone throughout the hall.

Tense scenes outside St Mary's

By Heath Parkes-Hupton

The ABC's Nabil Al Nashar had this report from the cathedral this morning, as mourners arrived.

One funeral attendee said he wanted to pay respects to the "extraordinary" contribution Cardinal Pell made to the church.

But he also said people had the right to protest.

Tensions ahead of Cardinal George Pell's funeral in Sydney
Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.