Pell moves to Sydney hide-out after post-prison road trip
Newly freed Cardinal George Pell has returned to Sydney and left Melbourne behind in a post-prison road trip.
Last night Cardinal Pell arrived at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush after spending his first night out of jail at the plush Carmelite Monastery in the Melbourne suburb of Kew.
The 78-year-old was yesterday driven to the Harbour City by a close friend, making a brief stop on the Hume Hwy to buy newspapers and a phone charger.
He told reporters that he was "very pleased" with Tuesday's High Court judgment that set him free from prison, but that he was "not in the slightest" surprised.
"I knew I was innocent," he said. Asked about what he would say to his accuser, he responded: "I would like to say that the court has made a very good decision".
Wearing a cardigan, he also apologised for not dressing better, explaining that he had not expected the media.
"Excuse me, social distance," he said to journalists as he left the petrol station.
The Cardinal told friends he had a good night's sleep, slept in until 8am, enjoyed breakfast at 9am before strolling around the monastery gardens.
He had hoped to catch up with family in regional Victoria before leaving Melbourne but decided against it because of coronavirus restrictions.
His plans were a closely guarded secret with even close friends unsure of his movements following his release from Barwon Prison on Tuesday.
Some had hoped to visit the Cardinal and were surprised to hear of his immediate trip to Sydney, where it is expected he will retire. It is understood Cardinal Pell always planned on retiring to Sydney following his post as Vatican treasurer. He will live in a house provided by Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.
It is understood the arrangement was in place well before he was charged with child sexual offences in 2017.
Cardinal Pell had hoped to beat the charges swiftly and return to the Vatican to finish his contract period as head of the Secretariat for the Economy.
He had been given broad powers by Pope Francis to clean up the church's finances after a series of financial scandals, mostly involving the Vatican bank.
But despite Cardinal Pell still having possessions in Rome, there is now no role for him at the Vatican unless he is called.
Last year the Pope named Spanish priest Fr Juan Antonio to fill the role previously held by Cardinal Pell.
In 2018, in the midst of his criminal prosecution, Cardinal Pell was removed by the Pope from a separate advisory body the Council of Cardinal Advisers.
Before moving to the Vatican in 2014 Cardinal Pell, a former Melbourne Archbishop, spent 13 years as the Archbishop of Sydney.
It is understood he feels more comfortable and anonymous in Sydney and feels he can move around more freely.
Cardinal Pell is unlikely to be given any further duties and is expected to live a quiet life in Sydney. While in prison he wrote a manuscript which may be turned into a book.
The normal retirement age for Catholic priests is 75. A church insider said yesterday "no bishop of his age would be taking on another role."
Originally published as Pell moves to Sydney hide-out after post-prison road trip