Cardinal George Pell will be buried at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney next month, the city’s Catholic Archdiocese announced Tuesday, following the controversial church figure’s death in Rome.
Pell, 81, was a towering figure in the Catholic Church but deeply divisive at home in Australia, where he had been accused of molesting two teenage choir boys while archbishop of Melbourne.
Pell was the highest-ranking Catholic imprisoned for child sexual abuse before his convictions were quashed on appeal.
Sydney’s Archdiocese said a formal service would be held on February 2 for Pell at the city’s cathedral, where he had been archbishop for 13 years.
“Cardinal Pell left a remarkable legacy for the Catholic Church in Australia and this will undoubtedly be one of the most significant funerals ever held at the Cathedral,” cathedral dean Father Don Richardson said in a statement.
Thousands of mourners were expected to attend and bid farewell to the “highly respected” cardinal, Richardson added.
His body will lie in state for a day ahead of the service before being buried in a private ceremony at the cathedral’s crypt afterwards.
Pell’s legacy — and particularly his role in the church’s treatment of child sexual abuse survivors — has divided Australia, with the leader of his home state of Victoria already ruling out a taxpayer-funded funeral.
“There will be no memorial service or state funeral because I think that would be a deeply, deeply distressing thing for every victim-survivor of Catholic Church child sexual abuse,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters last week.
Several multi-coloured ribbons — which have become a solidarity symbol for survivors of child sexual abuse — have already been tied to fences outside the cathedral ahead of the funeral.