The two hostile groups are separated only by a narrow buffer zone that was drawn up in front of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney as a preventive measure.

On one side, the demonstrators from the rainbow community with their flags, colorful dresses and banners crowd behind a metal grid.

Opposite them are some men dressed in mourning black, holding up rosaries as if they wanted to cast the devil out of someone here and now.

In the middle are the policemen, most of whom are on foot but also have a few on horseback, who are trying to keep the two groups, who are shouting at each other, apart.

Till Fähnders

Political correspondent for Southeast Asia.

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The direct confrontation in the shadow of the cathedral, in which the funeral mass for the Australian Curia cardinal George Pell, who died three weeks ago in Rome, is taking place at the same time, lasts only a few minutes before the demonstrators continue their protest march further up the street.

The heated encounter shows how divided Australia is over the legacy of the former Vatican finance chief, who died three weeks ago.

Pell suffered cardiac arrest at the age of 81 after hip replacement surgery.

In his tribute to Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fischer, called Pell a "giant of the Catholic Church in Australia" during the funeral mass in Sydney, who had been "demonized" by his critics.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott even called Pell "a saint" who was made a scapegoat for the entire Catholic Church.

"He just wanted to sweep it under the rug"

The demonstrators, on the other hand, see him as the “homophobic” culture fighter, climate protection and abortion opponent who covered up the sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

"This man was on the wrong side of history on every possible issue," said Eddie Stephenson, one of the organizers, at the start of their LGBTQ community protest march.

Despite Pell being one of the most controversial figures in the Catholic Church, hundreds of believers descended on the cathedral on this sunny summer morning to bid farewell to "their" cardinal.

They queue up in the forecourt of the church to get some of the seats in the cathedral reserved for the public.

"He was such a good man.

Whatever the controversy surrounding him, it was all about attention, some anti-Catholic people wanted to destroy him,” says Eillen Cosgrove from Sydney.

Jakov Miljak calls Pell an "Australian hero" who had made it further in the church hierarchy than any other of his compatriots and therefore did a lot for the church in Australia.

However, there are people who simply want Pell to be guilty, says Miljak.

The Catholic is addressing the abuse allegations against Pell, for which he was convicted by a jury in December 2018.

He had been accused of sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s at Melbourne Cathedral, where he had just been appointed archbishop.

After 404 days in prison, Australia's Supreme Court overturned the verdict and acquitted Pell.

There are a number of other people making serious allegations against Pell.

However, these cases never made it to a judge.

In addition, the cardinal is accused of having known about allegations of abuse against priests and other fellow believers for years, but did nothing to protect the victims.

He helped

that priests who had become conspicuous were simply sent on to other communities.

Details can be found in the report of the Australian Commission of Inquiry into Sexual Abuse.