With news of Cardinal George Pell’s release from prison after the High Court quashed his child sex convictions, Pope Francis has offered his daily mass “for people who suffer unjust sentences because of persecution”.
Vatican News reported on Tuesday evening (AEST) that the Pope introduced his mass saying that Jesus was hounded by the doctors of the law even though He was innocent.
“I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because of persecution,” Pope Francis said.
The Vatican Press Office has yet to make a statement on Cardinal Pell’s release from prison after serving 400 days on charges of assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s.
AAP reports that in recent weeks, the Pope’s intentions for nearly all of his daily masses have been related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In these days of #Lent, we've been witnessing the persecution that Jesus underwent and how He was judged ferociously, even though He was innocent. Let us #PrayTogether today for all those persons who suffer due to an unjust sentence because of someone had it in for them.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 7, 2020
The Pope, who appointed Cardinal Pell to overhaul the Vatican’s vast finances in 2014, had said he would comment only after all avenues of appeal had been exhausted.
Leading mass in his residence Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reminded the faithful that serving God was a vocation.
“Each one of us has a destiny, a free destiny. The destiny is the election of God. I am born chosen to be a servant of God with the task of serving.”
“To serve is not pretending that we have any other benefit to give than serving.”
- Read more: Cardinal Pell’s full statement
Vatican News said Pope Francis explained the important thing is our attitude before God and that except for Our Lady and Jesus, we have all fallen.
“The example of Peter is a source of inspiration. When Peter denied Jesus and the cock crowed, he cried and repented. This is the path of a servant who asks for forgiveness when he or she slips and falls.
“The other path is that of the servant who is incapable of understanding that he or she has fallen. This path leaves the heart open to the passions that lead to idolatry.”
Concluding his homily, the Pope invited the assembled to think of Jesus who was faithful in service.
“We are by vocation meant to serve and not to make a profit from our position in the church,” Vatican News said.
Cardinal Pell is not expected to return to a Holy See job.
The cardinal had been on a leave of absence from the post, whose formal title is Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy, since 2017.
Last year, the Pope named a successor, Spanish Jesuit priest Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves.
An official Vatican comment was expected later on Tuesday and it was not clear if the Pope would make a specific personal statement.