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Phoebe Loomes, Duncan Murray and Farid Farid

Pell clashed with Pope on Church reforms

Cardinal George Pell will receive a send-off by Pope Francis at a service at the Vatican amid fresh revelations the pair clashed over the direction of the Catholic church.

Formerly Australia's most senior Catholic figure, Cardinal Pell died in Rome this week at the age of 81 from heart complications following hip surgery.

Following his death, it was revealed the conservative cardinal criticised Pope Francis in anonymous memos, calling his papacy a "disaster" and "catastrophe".

In memos published under the pseudonym Demos, Cardinal Pell criticised steps taken by the pontiff which he said weakened the teachings of the gospel, Italian journalist Sandro Magister disclosed on Wednesday.

"Commentators of every school, if for different reasons ... agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe," Cardinal Pell wrote.

The memos criticise the Pope's silence on issues involving the Church including openness to the LGBTQ community, women priests and divorce.

A funeral mass will be held for Cardinal Pell in St Peter's Basilica on Saturday during which Pope Francis will deliver a final commendation, as is customary for cardinals.

High-profile Baptist minister Tim Costello told AAP Cardinal Pell shared more in common with the former pope, Benedict, than Pope Francis, who is more inclusive and less prescriptive in his approach.

Rev Costello said Cardinal Pell was mistaken that in a "post-Christian society" the best way for the Church to get its message across was by lecturing.

"I think he still had a view that the church is the major force within society," he said.

Rev Costello added Cardinal Pell came from a strong belief that the Catholic Church's internal governing laws, known as canon law, were rival to Australia's legal system.

"I think he was far too slow in facing up to child abuse amongst priests and not seeing them referred immediately to the criminal law system," he said.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Victoria's Daniel Andrews on Thursday ruled out holding state services for the former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney.

Mr Andrews said a state funeral or memorial would be distressing for victim-survivors, but the cardinal's legacy would be for others to judge.

Cardinal Pell was the Vatican's top finance minister before leaving in 2017 to stand trial in Melbourne on child sexual abuse charges, for which he was jailed before his convictions were quashed.

A service for Cardinal Pell will be held at the Vatican in the coming days, followed by a funeral mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. His body will be buried in St Mary's crypt.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said masses would be dedicated to the late Cardinal Pell this weekend.

With AP

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