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Australia's top Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, criticizes Pope Benedict XVI on last day (VIDEO)

Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, criticized Pope Benedict XVI on the eve of his departure, describing his resignation as destabilizing.

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Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney on November 13, 2012. The Catholic Church should not be the scapegoat in an Australian inquiry into child sex abuse, the country's most senior Catholic cleric said November 13 as he accused the press of a persistent campaign. (ROSLAN RAHMAN /AFP/Getty Images)

BRISBANE, Australia — Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, criticized Pope Benedict XVI on the eve of his departure from the Vatican, describing his resignation as destabilizing and his governance as flawed.

The pope began his final day in office Thursday with meetings planned with cardinals and staff at the Vatican before leaving by helicopter for Castel Gandolfo, the papal retreat near Rome, the BBC wrote.

He was to hand temporary charge of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Pell said from Rome, where he attended the pope's final address in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of people, that the pope was a better theologian than he was a leader.

The Telegraph cited Pell as saying on Australian TV that while Benedict was a "brilliant teacher" ... "government wasn't his strong point."

"I think I prefer somebody who can lead the Church and pull it together a bit."

Using the "Vatileaks" scandal, in which Benedict's butler leaked secret papal memos, as an example, Pell added:

"I think the governance is done by most of the people around the Pope and that wasn't always done brilliantly. And I'm not breaking any ground there — this is said very commonly."

This from a man whom, according to the ABC, "has been one of Benedict's strongest allies."

Pell also suggested that Benedict's historic resignation could be a problem for future leaders, telling ABC that:

"He was well aware that this is a break with tradition [and] slightly destabilizing. But he felt that because of his weakness and sickness, which was only too evident today, that he didn't have the strength to lead the church in these demanding times. He's as aware as I am of the slight change to the tradition."

Watch GlobalPost video from Vatican City on the legacy the pope will leave:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/world-religion/130228/catholic-cardinal-george-pell-benedict-pope-vatican-vatileaks-video