Cardinal Pell's funeral sparks Sydney protests

STORY: Mourners and protesters faced off in Sydney on Thursday (February 2) at the funeral of Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former top Vatican official who was acquitted of sexual abuse accusations in 2020.

Australian police dropped a court bid to block the protesters after they agreed to change route and gather in an adjacent road to the cathedral.

Thousands attended the funeral and many more watched on big screens outside.

Pell's body has lain in state since he died in Rome last month at 81.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was among several high-profile politicians mourning him.

“George Pell was the greatest man I’ve ever known and if faith means the ability to endure crushing adversity, no one could be a better advertisement for it.”

That wasn't the view in the park opposite, where hundreds of protesters, many from the LGBT community, condemned the leading Catholic conservative.

Australia's High Court in 2020 quashed Pell's convictions for sexually abusing two choir boys in the 1990s. He walked free after 13 months in jail.

Pell lived in Rome after the acquittal and had several meetings with Pope Francis.

Russell Manser represents survivors of sexual abuse.

"He was a pedophile facilitator and he couldn't be looked at in any other way. That's how we should be remembering him, a man that thought, you know, hurting children and abusing children was OK."

Tensions flared on Wednesday (February 1) after colorful ribbons tied by protesters along the fence of the cathedral were removed by people from inside.

The protesters said the ribbons symbolized the pain inflicted on the victims of child sexual abuse.