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George Pell AC

b. 1941

George Pell AC (b. 1941) was Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996, and Sydney from 2001. At Catholic college in Ballarat Pell was a top Australian Rules footballer, but he felt called to the priesthood and began studies at Corpus Christi in 1960. After further study in Rome, he was ordained in 1966. He received his PhD in church history from Oxford in 1971. Through the 1970s and early 1980s he served in various dioceses in Victoria, adding a master's degree in education to his qualifications. Appointed auxiliary bishop of Melbourne in 1987, he became that city's seventh Catholic archbishop in 1996; in 2001 he moved to take on the role of eighth Archbishop of Sydney. He was created a cardinal in 2003 and was one of the electors of the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. Generally characterised as a conservative as a consequence of his views on the ordination of women, the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDs, the celibacy of clergymen, divorce and climate change, Pell wrote widely in religious and secular magazines, learned journals and newspapers in Australia and overseas and regularly spoke on television and radio. In 2014 he was made head of the Vatican's secretariat for the economy. However, in mid-2017 he returned to Australia to face trial for sexual crimes against two choirboys, committed soon after he became the archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. Convicted in December 2018, in March 2019 he was sentenced to six years' jail.

Updated 2019