George Pell removed from Vatican role
Australian Cardinal George Pell has been removed from Pope Francis' inner circle of advisers.
The Vatican has confirmed Cardinal Pell, 77, is one of three cardinals who was not reappointed to the Council of Cardinals, known as the C9, which provides high-level international advice to the Pope.
A former Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, Cardinal Pell retains his role as Treasurer to the Vatican, its third-highest position, although he has been on a leave of absence for 18 months.
Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz and Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya were also not reappointed.
The Vatican said the Pope had decided in late October not to reappoint the three cardinals at the end of their five-year tenures.
The Pope's decision came after a meeting of the C9 in September, which none of the three men attended.
However, the Vatican only announced the Pontiff's decision on Wednesday.
Cardinal Pell has been in Australia since July last year. He has health problems which prevent him undertaking long-haul flying and he has not been attending C9 meetings.
The Pope is not considering replacing the men at this time, reducing the C9 to C6, according to a bulletin released on Wednesday during another meeting of the Council of Cardinals at Vatican City in Rome.
"Following the request expressed from the Cardinals, at the end of the 26th meeting of the Council of Cardinals, following a reflection on the work, the structure and the composition of the same council, keeping also in consideration the advanced age of some members, the Pope, at the end of October, has written to his Eminence Cardinal George Pell, to his Eminence the Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz and to his Eminence the Cardinal Laurent Monsignor Pasinya thanking them for their work in the past five years,'' the Vatican said.
"Considering the timing of the work of the council it is not planned to nominate new members at the moment.''
Also yesterday, the Director of the Vatican Press Office, Greg Burke, made the following statement, when asked for a comment on Cardinal Pell and the ongoing prosecution for historical child sexual offences in the County Court of Victoria. Cardinal Pell denies the charges.
"The Holy See has the utmost respect for Australian judicial authorities."