Cdl. Pell Rejects ‘Continental Catholicism’

by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  October 20, 2015   

Meanwhile, he has renewed hope in the Synod methodology

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VATICAN CITY, October 20, 2015 ( - Cardinal George Pell is speaking out against a proposal to let national bishops' conferences decide divisive controversies like Communion for civilly divorced and "remarried" Catholics.

The Australian cardinal, a member of the "Gang of Nine" papal advisors, told Catholic News Agency (CNA) in an interview published yesterday that, pursuant to the very meaning of the term, Catholicism is and ought to remain universal, not continental.

"Universality of the Church is on view with diversity of pastoral approaches," he said.

On the other hand, Cdl. Pell didn't gloss over doctrinal disputes either. He acknowledged that simply relegating to local bishops matters that are inextricably tied to Church teaching would be a dangerous path.

"There is this controversial issue of Communion for divorced and remarried or not, but what is important is to emphasize that doctrine is one; there are many theologies," said Cdl. Pell. Hence, he made clear that "[y]ou cannot have two people in the same situation with the same dispositions; one goes to Communion and it [is] a sacrilege and in the country next door it is a cause of grace."

Cardinal Arinze said you cannot nationalize right and wrong. We have one creed, one baptismal formula, one faith. One God, one faith, one baptism. "Catholic" means "universal," not "continental." We are not ruled by synods. We are led by individual bishops and led by the Holy Father and the Holy Father [Saturday] morning emphasized the central role of the Successor of Peter. He emphasized, too, that he is the authentic guarantee of the tradition. We only can live and work within the tradition, the essentials of the tradition.

Cardinal Pell, one of several signees of a leaked letter to Pope Francis critical of the Synod's procedures, told CNA his concerns about potential Synod manipulation have now been effectively resolved.

"I think our concerns have been substantially addressed: The Holy Father said doctrine will not be touched," stated Cdl. Pell, noting that "the Holy Father said there will be no manipulation."

Therefore, Cdl. Pell is mostly pleased with the Synod at this stage. "I think the Synod has basically been going well," he admitted.

While Cdl. Donald Wuerl, with the assistance of heterodox media, appears to characterize prelates who bring up potential problems at the Synod (presumably including Cdl. Pell) as being "opponents of the Pope," Cdl. Pell suggests that's far from the reality.

"The Pope has asked for free discussion. He's a very good listener. You can make your case to him and he will listen," Cdl. Pell said. "And, the Pope lines up with me; one of my concerns is for doctrine, and the Pope has said the doctrine will not be touched. I am not a rebel or an opponent of the Pope."


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