Pope Francis confirms Pell to stay on in top Vatican job

Cardinal George Pell reads a statement to reporters as he leaves the Quirinale hotel after meeting with survivors of sex abuse
Cardinal George Pell reads a statement to reporters as he leaves the Quirinale hotel after meeting with survivors of sex abuse

Pope Francis has confirmed Ballarat born Cardinal George Pell will stay on as the Vatican’s top financial official until at least 2019, despite mounting speculation he would step down after his 75th birthday next month.

Cardinal Pell faced has intense scrutiny across the world for both his role in the Vatican’s financial reform and his response to allegations of child sexual abuse cases as a priest and bishop in Ballarat and Melbourne. 

The news reportedly came in a statement from Cardinal Pell’s office in Rome this week.

It followed a visit last week by Pope Francis to the offices of the Secretariat for the Economy, which is the Vatican’s new lead agency for financial administration.

Reports following the visit outlined Cardinal Pell still had Pope Francis’s full support. 

Pell was appointed to his present role by Pope Francis in February 2014 with a five-year term meaning he  would stay in his current position until February 2019.

Cardinal Pell will turn 75 on June 8. 

In early March, Cardinal Pell testified before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse from Rome.

The inquiry examined complaints that Cardinal Pell had failed to act on situations of abuse when he was a priest in the Ballarat diocese and later in his role as the Archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell vigorously denied the charges. 

Earlier this year, Cardinal Pell made an impassioned public pledge to help those in Ballarat "wounded by the scourge of sexual abuse", in the final act of his appearance at the child sex abuse Royal Commission.

"One suicide is too many, and there have been many such tragic suicides," the cardinal said on the doorstep of the Rome hotel where over four nights he was grilled about what he knew of paedophile priests in Melbourne and Ballarat in the 1970s and 1980s.