Daniel Andrews slaps down George Pell legacy after death: 'Never forget'

The Victoria premier said there will be no state funeral for Cardinal Pell, saying it would be too distressing for survivors of Catholic Church child sex abuse.

·2-min read

Daniel Andrews said there will be no state funeral for Cardinal George Pell and argued it would be "distressing" for victims of sexual abuse.

The Victoria premier said we must "never forget" what survivors went through "at the hands of the Catholic Church" in the wake of Pell's death on Wednesday.

"I couldn't think of anything that would be more distressing for victim-survivors than that," Mr Andrews told reporters on Thursday. "These things are usually offered, and there will be no offer made. I think that would be a deeply, deeply distressing thing for every survivor of Catholic Church child sex abuse."

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said there will not be a state funeral for Cardinal George Pell. Source: Nine News

In 2018, Pell — the former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney — was convicted of molesting two teenage choirboys in the sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. But he has always maintained his innocence. In 2020 his convictions were quashed in a unanimous decision by the High Court.

Mr Andrews — who was raised a Catholic — gave his condolences to Pell's friends and family but said his thoughts are also with "victim-survivors of institutional child sexual abuse". It's understood a state service will not be offered in NSW either.

"We should never forget, never ever forget that pred ator brothers and priests were systematically moved around, knowingly, as part of a strategy, from one working class parish to the next," Mr Andrews said.

"We will never ever forget victim-survivors of institutional child sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church."

Pell a 'saint' says Tony Abbot

Former prime minister Tony Abbott showed his support for Pell who he called "a saint for our times" after hearing of his death. Mr Abbott said his jailing was a "modern form of crucifixion, reputationally at least a kind of living death".

"He strikes me as a saint for our times. Like everyone who knew him, I feel a deep sense of loss but am confident that his reputation will grow and grow and that he will become an inspiration for the ages," the former Liberal leader said.

Liberal leader Peter Dutton agreed and took aim at the Victorian government, suggesting it had led to Cardinal Pell's "political persecution".

"The fact he spent a year in prison for a conviction the High Court of Australia unanimously quashed should provide some cause for reflection for the Victorian Labor government and its institutions that led this modern-day political persecution," he said.

George Pell.
George Pell died aged 81. Source: Getty

with AAP

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