Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former treasurer of the Vatican who was the most senior member of the Catholic clergy

to be convicted of child sex abuse before his convictions were overturned, has died at the age of 81.

He was once the third-highest-ranked Catholic in the Vatican after earlier serving as the archbishop of Melbourne and archbishop of Sydney.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli, the current archbishop of Melbourne, said Pell had died from heart complications following hip surgery.

Pell spent 13 months in prison before Australia’s highest court in 2020 quashed his conviction for sexually assaulting two choir boys in the 1990s.

The decision allowed the then-78-year-old Pell to walk free. Pell died in Rome on Tuesday night, his private secretary said.

He was the most senior member of the church to be accused of historical sexual abuse in a scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church worldwide.

Pell was the Vatican’s economy minister from 2014 until he took leave of absence in 2017 to return to Australia to face the assault charges.