Vatican City, Feb 26, 2019 / 02:33 pm (CNA).- Alessandro Gisotti, interim Holy See press office director, confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that Cardinal George Pell is no longer prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
Pell’s term as prefect was to have expired Feb. 24. His resignation has not been noted in the Vatican’s bollettino, so it is believed his term lapsed and was not renewed, and he was not removed from office.
Gisotti’s tweet suggests that Pell’s loss of office by the expiration of his term has been communicated to him in writing, as required by canon law.
I can confirm that Cardinal George Pell is no longer the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy
— Alessandro Gisotti (@AGisotti) February 26, 2019
The cardinal was convicted in an Australian civil court in December on five charges of the sexual abuse of minors. A gag order preventing media from reporting on the trial and conviction was lifted Feb. 26.
Gisotti had issued a statement regarding Pell earlier in the day Feb. 26, which did not mention his status as prefect.
The statement acknowledged the “painful” news which has “shocked many people.”
“As already expressed on other occasions, we have the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities,” the statement said.
“Out of this respect, we await the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal.”
The statement confirms that Pell has been barred from public ministry and from contact with minors during the course of the legal process, and will remain so during his appeal.
“In order to ensure the course of justice, the Holy Father has confirmed the precautionary measures which had been imposed by the local Ordinary on Cardinal George Pell when he returned to Australia. That is, while awaiting the definitive assessment of the facts, as is the norm, Cardinal George Pell is prohibited from exercising public ministry and from having any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.”
Pell was the first prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, which was established in 2014.