Cardinal Pell says prison helped him understand Christ's suffering

PHOENIX (CNS) -- Australian Cardinal George Pell, jailed for more than a year for sex abuse crimes he ultimately was cleared of, said the experience enabled him to understand suffering as a redemptive process that allows one to identify closely with Christ.

"Suffering accepted in faith can be good and useful. Like gold, it can be used for good purposes," Cardinal Pell told a gathering of Catholic medical professionals and their guests in Phoenix Nov. 20.

Reminding his audience Jesus told his followers, "whoever does not accept his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple," the cardinal said "that makes it difficult for Christians."

But, he added, "It is through his suffering and death while a powerless victim that the Lord redeemed us."

"All this only makes sense if we accept in faith that suffering can be redemptive -- turned to a good purpose when united with Jesus' suffering and death," the cardinal continued. "It is through his suffering and death while a powerless victim that the Lord redeemed us; released the grace so that our sins and the worst crimes could be forgiven."

The former prefect of the Vatican's Secretariat of the Economy, Cardinal Pell left the position in 2017 to defend himself. The office oversees Vatican finances, and the cardinal was eyeing several reforms at the time.