February 8, 2023

A TV news anchor has given her brutal assessment of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s tribute to the late George Pell, who died on Tuesday at the age of 81.

Abbott, a Catholic and staunch supporter of Pell, described the cardinal as a “saint” and compared the sexual abuse allegations that effectively ended his church career to “a modern form of crucifixion.”

While this statement was welcomed by many Australian Catholics, some argued it was insensitive given the allegations Pell faced during his lifetime, including helping to cover up abuses by other members of the clergy.

In response to Abbott’s statement on Instagram, former 7News Melbourne host Jacqui Felgate summed up the anger of Pell’s critics in a brutal three-word response.

TV news anchor Jacqui Felgate (pictured) has given her brutal assessment of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s tribute to the late George Pell, who died on Tuesday aged 81

“Beyond the pale,” she wrote.

Many of Felgate’s followers agreed, and some, including actress Olympia Valance, questioned whether Abbott’s moving statement was “real.”

Former Bachelor star Matthew Johnson also said of Abbott’s statement, “This is absolutely repulsive and really puts into perspective what type of person (he is).”

It comes after Abbott branded Cardinal George Pell “a saint for our time” and compared his prison sentence for child molestation to “a modern form of crucifixion.”

Abbott (pictured), a staunch supporter of Pell, described the cardinal as a

Abbott (pictured), a staunch supporter of Pell, described the cardinal as a “saint” and compared the sexual abuse allegations that effectively ended his church career to “a modern-day crucifixion”

The former prime minister led tributes after Pell died on Tuesday aged 81 from heart complications following hip surgery.

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But the conversation quickly turned to the former Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney and the 2018 conviction of the papal adviser for molesting two teenage choirboys in 1996.

The conviction was overturned in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2020.

After calling the cardinal a ‘great son’ and ‘great leader’, Mr Abbott said his imprisonment was a ‘modern form of crucifixion, reputedly at least a kind of living death’.

Responding to Abbott's statement on Instagram, former 7News Melbourne presenter Felgate summed up the anger of Pell's critics with a cheeky three-word response: 'Beyond the pale'

Responding to Abbott’s statement on Instagram, former 7News Melbourne presenter Felgate summed up the anger of Pell’s critics with a cheeky three-word response: ‘Beyond the pale’

‘He strikes me as a saint for our time. Like everyone who knew him, I feel a deep sense of loss, but I am confident that his reputation will grow and grow and that he will become an inspiration to all ages,” said the former Liberal leader.

“The cardinal was a devoted defender of Catholic orthodoxy… as an ecclesiastical and cultural conservative, he drew praise and disapproval from all expected quarters.”

Liberal leader Peter Dutton agreed and took aim at the Victorian government, suggesting that this had led to the ‘political persecution’ of Cardinal Pell.

“The fact that he spent a year in prison for a conviction that the Supreme Court of Australia unanimously overturned should be cause for reflection for the Victorian Labor government and its institutions that have led this modern political prosecution,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was a “difficult day” for many Australians after extending the country’s condolences to Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher on Wednesday morning.

“For many people, particularly Catholics, this will be a difficult day and I extend my condolences to all who are grieving today,” he told reporters in Rockhampton.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would help bring Cardinal Pell’s body back to Australia for a funeral service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney after the Vatican burial.

Mr Albanese, who is a Catholic, declined to say whether he will be attending the Sydney event, adding only that ‘further announcements will be made when finalized’.

Former Prime Minister John Howard said a person of immense influence had been taken from the nation.

“His deep and compassionate faith sustained him through more than 400 days in prison for alleged crimes that many, including myself, believed should never have been the subject of an indictment,” he said.

Child protection attorney and former Senator Derryn Hinch was more scathing for the Catholic leader.

“I wish he had lived another 10 years of deserved public humiliation,” he tweeted.