Pell returned to Australia from the Vatican in 2017 to fight allegations of abuse made by multiple whistleblowers over decades in his home state of Victoria. Only charges that he abused two choirboys in his first months as Melbourne archbishop in the late 1990s led to convictions.

His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury, but he was convicted after his second trial with a unanimous verdict. He lost his first appeal in a 2-1 ruling, but was acquitted by all seven High Court judges.

He spent more than a year in prison, most of it in solitary confinement, before being acquitted. But his career in the Vatican was by then over.

Pope Francis, who in 2014 appointed Pell as the first prefect of the newly created Finance Secretariat tasked with reforming the Vatican’s notoriously opaque finances, sent a message to the funeral saying Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic had «put the foundations with determination and wisdom” of the economic reforms of the Vatican.

Former Conservative Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott were among the mourners at the cathedral, while the centre-left current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was represented by a government minister.

Sydney-based gay rights group Community Action for Rainbow Rights had called on people to join what it calls its «Pell go to hell!» Protest outside the cathedral.

Pell had irritated gay activists with views that included: «Homosexual activity is a far greater health hazard than smoking.»

Pell was archbishop of Sydney from 2001 until 2014, when he was called to the Vatican.