Archbishop Peter A Comensoli has released the following statement on the sudden death overnight of Cardinal George Pell.

It is with great sadness that I have learned that Cardinal George Pell, the seventh Archbishop of Melbourne, has died overnight from heart complications following hip surgery in Rome, Italy.

Cardinal Pell was a very significant and influential Church leader, both in Australia and internationally, deeply committed to Christian discipleship.

Cardinal Pell led the local Church of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001 with strong leadership in the Catholic faith and with good governance, before being transferred to Sydney and then to Rome.

At this immediate moment, let our prayers go out to the God of Jesus Christ, whom Cardinal Pell wholeheartedly believed in and followed, that he may be welcomed into eternal life.

Our prayers of comfort and condolence are also with his family, especially his only surviving sibling David Pell.

May eternal light shine upon him, and may he now rest in peace and rise to glory in the Lord.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has also released the following statement.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the unexpected death of Cardinal George Pell in Rome on Tuesday evening (Rome time). Cardinal Pell provided strong and clear leadership within the Catholic Church in Australia, as Archbishop of Melbourne and Archbishop of Sydney and as a member of the Bishops Conference for more than 25 years.

His many strengths were widely recognised, both in Australia and around the world, as his Vatican appointments as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and as a member of the Council of Cardinals, an advisory group to Pope Francis, testify.

Cardinal Pell’s impact on the life of the Church in Australia and around the world will continue to be felt for many years. As we remember him and reflect on his legacy, I invite all Catholics and other people of goodwill to join in praying for Cardinal Pell, a man of deep and abiding faith, and for the repose of his soul.