Thursday, May 6, 2010

Benedict's Not So Subtle Answer To Hans Kung's Call For Reform: Australia's Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal Pell in cappa magna. Jesus weeps.

The Bull in the "Bishops Shop"

Rocco Palma - Whispers in the Loggia - 0/5/2010

"He's a quintessential Australian," a friend of George Pell's once observed. "He loves to shock."Over the years, the Sydney cardinal's launched his unique, prolific brand of broadside on environmentalists, Islam, and the ecclesial and political Left... to name but a few. Yet soon, barring the unforeseen, a new target -- for "Big George," the biggest one yet -- appears set to present itself....The Global Bench, all 5,000 members of it.

Sure, the formal word might've been absent from this morning's dispatches. Lest anyone wasn't banking it before, however, you can bank it now -- early today, the leading Italian "court scribe," Il Giornale's Andrea Tornielli, blogged the following, here translated from the original:

In the last few days Benedict XVI again received in audience Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, making official his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Pell subsequently had a long conversation with his predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. The announcement of the move will be given over the coming weeks, but before the first of summer.

Pell would be installed at the helm of the "bishop factory" for its return to full rhythm of its activity after the summer holidays. With the arrival of an Australian in the lead post of the key dicastery of the Roman Curia, that which deals which choosing bishops, Benedict XVI has completed one of the most important choices of his pontificate, one destined to shape the life of the global church for the next twenty years. It's true, in fact, that Pell isn't very young -- he'll be 70 years old in June 2011, and so has ahead of him no more than seven years -- but it's likewise true that the episcopal appointments that pass his sign-off before being placed before the pontiff will impact the life of the church for at least two decades. Papa Ratzinger yet again chooses from among the non-Italians for a key post of Curial governance, and from among the non-Italians who have no experience in the Curia (in the last 35 years, the Congregation for Bishops alternated between Italian and non-Italian heads -- from Baggio to Moreira Neves, from Gantin to Re -- but all had Curial experience). A choice certainly destined to renew and internationalize the Curia, and likewise to reinforce the hand of the Secretariat of State.


If I had any doubts about whether the abuse crisis has impacted Benedict's reform of the reform agenda, I don't anymore. He is bound and determined to sail the Catholic Barque on his own personal (Opus Dei) theological course, and it doesn't matter if that course ends in it's sinking. In all likely hood he won't be around to go down with his barque.

Pell is up to his ears in Opus Dei and most other of Opus Dei's ancillary groups. Pell's impact on the Church in Australia has been like a bull and has left the Australian Church a trashed china shop. Attendance at Mass is less than 15% of Australia's Catholic population. The Church keeps on running in Australia because it is heavily subsidized by the government. It's revenue hardly reflects actual participation. This state of affiars, which is not unique to Australia, is one of the primary revenue sources the Vatican counts on to keep itself afloat as Catholics in developed countries leave the pews in record numbers. These government generated revenue sources are the wind which propels the Vatican barque. It's not the collection plate.

Pell was also the chairman of the Vox Clara commission which was responsible for the translation of the Mass which will soon be foisted on Catholic laity in English speaking countries. When asked in a recent interview if this translation was shoved down people's throat, Pell opined that it was passed by all English speaking national bishop synods, and was not a top down decision. This exemplifies Pell's notions of collegiality. Collegiality does not extend to the laity--unless those laity are uber conservative supporters of ecclesiastical and papal authority. He has demonstrated a perfect willingness to act on complaints of the "Temple police" because in Pell's mind laity make fine spies but that's the extent of lay input as far as the Church goes. In true Opus Dei fashion laity are most useful agitating for social engineering on conservative lines and making sure the government tax trough stays flowing to Church coffers. Those large donations from wealthy conservatives are nice, as are their insider stock trading secrets.

Any body who seriously thought Benedict cared about restoring church credibility to any other laity besides those who belong to Opus Dei, the Legionaires, the Neo Cats, or Communion and Liberation can now rest assured he doesn't. His agenda is now and always has been the promotion of theological fascism. He is interested in Catholic souls only if he can control Catholic minds. Pell will see to it that no bishop is given a mitre whose thinking isn't in line with Vatican control.

This may be the one decision Benedict will make which truly has the potential of provoking a schism. Opus Dei used to be described as a 'parallel Church'. Benedict is purposely turning it and it's clones into the Church. He is the one in schism.


  1. well, pell can flatter himself by reading rocco palma's post. this is what palma does. he brown noses every bishop who's elevated to a new post and every priest who's elevated to bishop--regardless of their record. if i read one more "this guy's not gay, sports analogy" regarding a new bishop on his site i think i'm gonna vomit. maybe he should crawl out of the asses of these bishop and find his own testicles. sorry, colleen, but this guy really embarasses me as a journalist and catholic.

  2. Not to worry Matt. When I read Palma's missive I went apoplectic myself. I had to keep deleting half of what I wrote because of an unconscious tendency to insert language learned while working in the mining industry.

  3. One of the early beginnings of this schism was the removal of all the great catholic theologians by this man. Another cause was Ratzinger's appointment by John Paul the great enabler and misogynist. Perhaps another earlier part of this schism was the way JP I died- This is conjecture but certainly Opus Dei money was flowing at the time of the election of JP II. If you follow the money flow it really gets nauseating. Thinking People of God have no choice but to reject this leadership.

  4. One is tempted to wonder if Ratzi isn't actually doing God's work here... the work of hacking away at a diseased branch of the vine. To protect the rest of it! ;)

  5. Matt, it is getting more difficult to not use language we would not use around children. Since we are not children, let it fly!!!!

    No, seriously, the OD Church will OD on their own narcissism. Since Benedict has become Pope and the Church really is schismatic now, while reading some of Pell's writings it becomes even clearer what their world view is. They are capitalist. They are the Princes of this world. They don't want any type of "socialism." While he is for freedom of conscience for himself, he is against it for others who lean to the left. That is the serious problem and flaw with the OD world view.

    While the current ODC, which used to be the RCC, has been taken over by the spirit that is against People, Pell and Bene will continue to spread these notions of "freedom of conscience" for fascist capitalist. They work within the law and within the governments of nations.

    They have nothing to do with Jesus Christ or His teachings. That is what was most evidently clear when reading Pell's thoughts on the various links here today.

    He is a real smooth talker and could probably convince your grandmother, if she were alive, to go to war for him.

    His purpose is War. It is a War against People.

  6. Furthermore, Bene's and Pell's OD theology is really a cover for their political agenda for world power and control over people.

  7. FYI...and this should come as no surprise, Rocco Palma is reputed to be an Opus Dei man. It also is the only lucid explanation of why such a young & seemingly otherwise unimportant man has such great connectivity with the Episcopacy.

    Pell & Ratzinger were practically fawning over each other during the Aussie Papal Road Trip, during which the latter stayed in an Opus Dei residence:p

    "Furthermore, Bene's and Pell's OD theology is really a cover for their political agenda for world power and control over people."

    Correct. And all covered with smiles & pious words to confuse the bewildered sheep.

  8. Doesn't this re-write history somewhat? How to explain that the decline of the Church in Australia has decelerated since Pell was made Archbishop of Melbourne?

  9. It's not a total rewrite. Deceleration is not a reversal. Eventually the dip will bottom out and Benedict will have his much leaner Church. The numbers, like in the US, are also impacted by immigration, but not nearly to the same extent they have been in the US.

  10. I know many things before palmo posts them, so I don't know how extraordinary his links are. I think he has influence because of the gossip quotient, early entry into the online catholic blogosphere and a sort of ceaseless self-promotion. The site is like inside hollywood.
    Still, it's widely read, and palmo continues to flatter any and every bishop. This ensures access to those bishops for Palmo in the future. Many Catholic journalists do this to an extent--even John Allen--but nowhere near to the degree Palmo does. When he can't flatter, he generally ignores an incident or topic. This has happened a lot lately as embarassing situations have hit bishop in or close to the vatican and the pope. Palmo's site is really a poor site. I would prefer to ignore this site. The reason I don't ignore it because many people are reading it.
    Anonymous, I don't know about an Opus Dei membership or affiliation for Palmo. I just searched this online and came up empty. It's possible, but he could easily do this without Opus Dei help. Like I said, I know a good deal of this stuff before Palmo posts it and I'm not actively searching out entries to post on a blog.

  11. Matt -

    Many ppl could easily be privy to much of the gossip which Palma posts - and not have the remotest link to Opus Dei. That much is true.

    The dead give-away is his rhetoric - both over & between the lines. The Leaven of the Pharisees which he seems to revel in.

    ...or if you wish, just say that he enjoys 'singing the company' song...a lot:)

    That 'Leaven'..the mindset & morality, is identical with that of the Opus Dei. His actual membership is therefore irrelevant. What he says & how speaks louder then any membership pin could. Actually, the info linking him with OD was passed to me some time ago. But even were that false, the spirit of what he is & does speaks loudly.

    His veneration of the hindquarters of Prelates is truly sickening.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  12. I agree, Colleen. The choice of Pell indicates that the center is not merely going to hold the course, but that it intends to do so defiantly, despite what any of the rest of us think.

    I recall, too, how Pell treated his cousin when she wrote him an open letter about his attacks on gays. She's a former nun living in a same-sex relationship.

    She asked for dialogue about the church's approach to LGBT people. Pell ignored her letter and refused to meet or talk with her.

  13. To state that " The Church keeps on running in Australia because it is heavily subsidized by the government" is wrong. All churches receive tax concessions on property and Catholic schools are government subsidised according to need. It is inaccurate however to claim that the churches are heavily subsidised in Australia.

    I have worked for Cardinal Pell in the past and I disagree with much of his vision for the Church. I have also been following several blogs akin to this one for a few months, and I find much of their commentary and response both judgemental and lacking in charity. Do you want to rebuild or just destroy?

    I appreciate your hurt and anger. I too have experienced the brutality of clerics, and I have chosen to leave the Roman Catholic church for the Anglican Communion. My experience is that raging into the night in such a self-righetous fashion does not achieve much. Criticise by all means but if that is all you do, you run the risk of aping the behaviour of the boys' club. In my experience that is what many of them do best.

  14. Roman I can concede your point. I have often wrestled with that question myself. I put the question a little differently though. When does extending charity become enabling behavior?

    I will not in any way shape or form enable ideas or theology which base spiritual authority on fear, othering, hypocrisy, compartmentalization, false guilt, or completely contradict the teachings of Jesus.

  15. I'll give you a real life analogy. Back when I worked on the family ranch dad decided to put up a couple of big conical grain bins.

    My two brothers and my dad insisted that they should be built one ring at a time with the conical top built last. I insisted it had to go the other way. Built the top first and attach the rest of the rings to the top.

    I was called many names, stupid, and incompetent the nicer ones. I said OK do it your way, I'm going to take mom shopping in the big city. As I walked away my dad told me not to expect to get paid for that day.

    Mom and I had a great time. My dad and brothers spent the next day tearing down their grain bin and putting it up correctly. Of course I was never given any credit for being right. I did get paid though.

    Catholicism is the same way. If we insist on a traditional hierarchical model, the top has to be built right and the rings fit onto it in a way which doesn't stress the whole edifice. We now have a top which is way out of whack and doesn't fit on the rest of the Church.

  16. rr: listen to what you just said... you left the church because of actions like pell's. that's what such actions are doing to people.
    one of the most important aspects of the church is communion; both in the sense of the eucharist and of the community that shares it. but actions like pell's are divisive, they are against communion. they want a smaller, purer church. pell and others have caused you to remove yourself from that communion. rr: they are not working for the kingdom of god. they are seeing enemies where jesus saw friends.

  17. Love that line Matt. They are seeing enemies where Jesus saw friends.

  18. Colleen -

    "Benedict thinks OPUS DEI is a reliable instrument in his campaign to rid the church of FILTH."

    Rhetoric aside, this is one way of viewing the present reality. Benedict & the Opus Dei boys who run the Vatican & most Chanceries view anything & anyone not of their modality as 'FILTH'.

    For all practical purposes, they view the poor & marginalized as FILTH, except when useful for photo ops. Thus the poor, hungry, & those who are not of the Leaven of Opus Dei are to them, FILTH.

    Thus were Jesus to be on earth in the identical mode of Messiah as in 33AD, he, his mother & those how believe in Him would be labelled:


    Our anonymous OD fan further writes:

    "It is true that Opus Dei have no record of sexual scandal."

    Oh really now? In what alternative universe is this true? That little Swiss Guard/Opus Dei/Homoseual related murder mystery in the Vatican a few years ago tends to dispel this assertion......

    As does information on

    Of course what makes it somewhat plausible to make such an assertion as 'truth' is the well known fact that members of Opus Dei are required to keep their membership status a secret, unless given permission to formally reveal it. This includes Associate, Cooperator & Collaborator status.

    But then we have men such as Cardinal Law & certain other Prelates who either came dangerously close to the scene of the crime, or engaged in criminal conspiracy to conceal the cases.

    In law, 'conspiracy' charges bear near equal legal culpability with actual performance of a crime.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  19. There was Cardinal Groer as well, who if not a formal member, was certainly a kindred theological spirit.

  20. Colleen

    I have no difficulty with your opposition to the hierarchical boys' club which lacks accountability. Like most of your respondents, I believe it is the reason for the current crisis in the RC church, and certainly not part of the solution.

    I think however that when we use hyperbole, vitriol etc. we lack Christian charity, and compromise our own credibility. I think we can oppose the views and actions of Benedict, Sodano, Pell, Rode, Burke et al. in a very firm way and refuse to cooperate with them and their structures and processes, without resorting to crudity (see Matt's comments), exaggeration("Fascist capitalist", "His purpose is war") - see butterfly's comments).

    I think our cause is better served by "playing the ball a little more, rather than the man".

    Don't place too much significance on Pell's position within the Australian church. The pews were significantly depleted well before Pell came to prominence. If we obsess too much about these characters, we give them a power they do not deserve.

  21. Since I am mentioned, RomanRenegade, I believe that I should comment about yours.

    You claim I am using "vitriol" which is cruel and bitter criticism, and "hyperbole" which is exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

    I have made no exaggerated statements. I have spoken what I believe is the truth. You see, Pell does not work alone as an individual and they have a purpose which unfortunately has gone down a path that is destructive, with no intention of bringing the message of Jesus Christ into the world. It is in that sense that he does not work for peace and actually promotes war.

    The truth sometimes can sound cruel. But I am not being cruel when I speak the truth about Opus Dei and what they bring into the world. What does fascism bring into the world?

    History will repeat itself unless very outspoken people speak the truth. If we wait to speak, it will be too late. Shall we wait until this fascism spreads to speak up?