Saturday, 2 March 2013

Cardinal Pell: The Campaign, Take II

In an interesting piece of media spin, the Archdiocese of Sydney website has a little piece on Pope Benedict's final audience, as described by Cardinal Pell.

In a little bit of creative rewriting of history, it provides an altogether more appropriate set of farewell comments to the Pope from the Cardinal.

A better tribute...

If only this is what he had said to the secular media:

"The Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell was one of around 70 Cardinals who witnessed Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience in St Peter's Square yesterday, describing the two hours as a moving and beautiful farewell to a much-admired Pope...

Following the audience Cardinal Pell said; "It was a beautiful farewell. It was sad. There was an immense crowd - 150,000 to 200,000. Their affection for Pope Benedict was manifest.

"I think he was more than a little bit moved himself. But it was a beautiful farewell."  Cardinal Pell said he believed Pope Benedict will be remembered for many things including  the fact he was a brilliant thinker and a magnificent teacher. He was also very prayerful and humble.

"Pope Benedict also restored the tradition of the liturgy - that I think will be one of his greatest legacies," Cardinal Pell said.

Alas, the ecclesial spin merchant who wrote or edited it couldn't resist a little joke on the Cardinal's behalf, with a caption to the following photo: "Cardinal George Pell: head and shoulders above the rest"!

Via Catholic Communications, Sydney


Joshua said...

So for the gullible faithful he has gushingly affectionate remarks about His Holiness, while for cynical atheists he has crass comments critical of Benedict XVI?

Talk about running with the fox and hunting with the hounds!

This embarrassing circus performance has finally convinced even me that the Traddies who mock and lambaste Cardinal Pell are quite right: the man is not what he is cracked up to be.

As to his own theology, at a confirmation last year he was fool enough to ask the youngsters "Who's the most important Person of the Trinity?" (For the record, His Eminence thought the answer to be the Second; his views on the First are unclear, but we have his televised comments from 2005 as to his belief that sometimes the Third "gets it wrong".) Clearly someone needs to brush up on the basics.

odunbarr said...

Cardinal Pell's original comments were very apt - perhaps revealing a truth we may not all like to contemplate. Even conservative Archbishop Coleridge echoed Pell's comments on a ABC TV program calling the governance of the pontificate (despite the brilliance of the teachings etc) "gaf-prone", and far more so than his predecessor (JPII). Pell was most likely talking about pressure from within the curia, not the media, in potentially influencing future Popes to step down (the word he used was just "people" not the media). I fail to see why is this so impossible? Pell offered unconditional praise of Benedict XVI as well as some criticisms - I would've thought that is a balanced position, rather than endless effusive praise as if no errors of judgement or procedure were even possible under this Pontificate.

Kate Edwards said...

The problem with the Cardinal's comments were partly their timing, and partly their tone.

When someone is retiring at work, at the farewell drinkies one doesn't normally lay into them in fairly brutal terms, one waits for later. A similar principle applies here I think.

It would have been perfectly possible for the Cardinal to have stressed the positives and then pointed to some things the next pope will need to focus on for example.

But on the substance of your comments I just don't agree.

No surprise that either Pell (a neoCath of the strict observance as another blogger recently described the George Weigel school of American Exceptionalist catholicism) or Coleridge (a JPII man) are less than enthusiastic about BXVI's legacy. There is a nice article by Adrian Pabst over at the ABC religion and ethics website that explains why he antagonised conservatives and progressives alike with his agenda:

One could also note that both men are rumoured to have wanted, but not won, Curia jobs over the last few years...

But more seriously on the substance of your comments, I don't agree about the 'gaff-prone' thing.

From a strictly Catholic perspective, JPII made far more 'gaffs' - the difference is that from a secularist perspective kissing the koran and behaving like a rock star is to be applauded, not condemned.

And how can you go past JPII's refusal to take the complaints about Marciel seriously? Frankly as real, as opposed to perceived, gaffs go, that's a pretty big one in my view.

And on the purely liturgical level one can think of many others (altar girls, communion in the hand, etc etc etc).

By contrast BXVI articulated truths, including about the problem Islam has with reason, that made many, including in the Vatican, deeply uncomfortable. And got lots of flack for saying things and doing things that needed to be said and done.

I also think the mishandling of several issues in the media can be attributed more to the fightback against his agenda than to the original decision or comments being gaffs per se.

You can certainly argue that he should have been more ruthless in sacking the people who were undermining him, and recruiting some better talent but that is not quite the same issue.

Thirdly, in terms of pressure to step down, I'm not entirely sure that is necessarily a bad thing if the circumstances warrant it.

If JPII had stepped down a little earlier, the Marciel and other key scandals might have been stopped sooner.

So far as we know this Pope didn't step down due to pressure from within or without so unless something comes to light to prove otherwise, I don't think a precedent has been set.

And one way to shortcut the whole problem would be for the next pope were to announce early on that he plans on retiring when he hits say age 75 or 80.

Personally, I suspect that some Cardinals and others just can't come to grips with the idea of anyone voluntarily giving up power...

ptmmarsh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Edwards said...

Destabilising? To whom!

I really don't think the Church is in any danger of collapsing because a bishop, even of Rome, resigns.

No, the Petrine Ministry is not a just another job.

But let's move past the papolatry that still seems to flourish amongst some, and has no place in the Church in my view.

A Canberra Observer said...

I am sorry but I do not buy this line that B XVI had poor governance by some rose coloured comparison to JP II, complete with, again imo, his own cult of personality.

Frankly, much of the mess we find ourselves in, imo, is down to the way JP II ran the papacy. Heretical bishops everywhere. Only with B XVI did we begin to see some cleaning of house. Maybe the comfortable collegial, non-critical, bishops' conferences didn't like this.

Mary Abraham said...

Well, at least Pell seems to have the courage to speak in a (relatively) straightforward way. Right or wrong, it is better than simply saying the expedient platitudes....