Card. Pell: “Young people don’t see the Catholic Church as being inevitably in decline”

Remember the Tumult in Toowoomba?  Bp. Morris, removed from governance of the diocese after years … strange stuff?

From CNA:

Cardinal Pell says Bishop Morris sacking ‘a tragedy’ but also ‘a useful clarification’
By David Kerr

Sydney, Australia, May 28, 2011 / 04:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s been nearly a month since Bishop Bill Morris of Toowoomba in Australia was dismissed from office by Pope Benedict XVI. Now the country’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, has given his first in-depth interview on the controversial sacking to CNA.

“Well, it was a tragedy. It should never have come to this,” Cardinal Pell told CNA while on a visit to Rome.

“Rome was very patient. You could say the dialogue had continued on for 13 years and unfortunately Bishop Morris felt unable to give satisfactory clarifications.” [13 years … ?!?… who appointed him in the first place?]

Bishop Morris’s dismissal followed comments he made in a 2006 pastoral letter.  In it he called for the ordination of women and married men, and suggested that protestant ministers could offer Mass to compensate for the lack of priests in his diocese. This in turn led the Vatican to order an investigation.

Catholics stand with the Pope as the successor of Peter and his role is to strengthen his brothers and to defend the apostolic tradition, and it’s now Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained priests. That’s not an optional belief; it’s now part of the Catholic package,” said Cardinal Pell. [So is Summorum Pontificum.]

Critics of the bishop who’ve spoken in recent weeks to CNA suggest that the problems in Toowoomba went far beyond the bishop’s public disagreement with Catholic doctrine on the priesthood.

They’ve claimed Bishop Morris – who preferred a shirt and tie to a priestly collar and bishops’ attire – did much to undermine Catholic identity and teachings during his 18 years in office.

Cardinal Pell was both balanced and charitable in his assessment of Bishop Morris’s legacy.

“He’s a very good man. He had a lot of pastoral strengths. He’s got a lot of good points. He’s done of lot of good work. He’s got quite a strong following in the diocese.” [I am convinced of all of that. I’ll bet he is a really nice who did great things for people.  He would have been a great parish priest.]

“But the diocese was divided quite badly and the bishop hasn’t demonstrated that he’s a team player. I mean even at the end he didn’t wait for the official Vatican announcement.” [I’d say.]

“He sent around messages to every parish, to all his priests, the Australian bishops before the official announcement and since then he’s made a number of public announcements which haven’t been helpful.”

As for critics of the Pope’s decision to sack Bishop Morris?

“There’s been a predictable chorus from a minority but such is life.” [Such is life.]

The job of rebuilding things in Toowoomba now falls to Bishop Brian Finnegan of Brisbane who has now been appointed apostolic administrator until a new bishop can be found.  Cardinal Pell said it’s time “to look to the future.”

“You know, life moves on, but also I think it will be a useful clarification for people that Catholic doctrine is there to be followed and bishops take promises to defend the integrity of Catholic teaching.”

Cardinal Pell believes that it’s this orthodox approach that is reaping apostolic benefits in many parts of Australia including Sydney. He points to an increased number of priestly and religious vocations, vibrant university chaplaincies and the legacy of World Youth Day in 2008.

Young people don’t see the Catholic Church as being inevitably in decline at least in most parts of Australia.[Do I hear and “Amen!”?]

“We’re doing what Christ wants, and I think that if you do that you’ve always got to be optimistic” [DO I HEAR AN “AMEN!”?]

“There’s life and energy and promise.”

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24 Responses to Card. Pell: “Young people don’t see the Catholic Church as being inevitably in decline”

  1. shane says:

    Cardinal Pell must be a nightmare for Catholic liberals there.

  2. Norah says:

    He would have been a great parish priest.

    Fr Z I can only hope that you were speaking ironically. This man would have been as bad a parish priest as he was a bishop. He would have spouted his ideas from the pulpit and led the little ones of his parish astray just as he has done for his diocese.

    He’s a very good man. He had a lot of pastoral strengths. He’s got a lot of good points. He’s done of lot of good work.

    I couldn’t believe that Cardinal Pell would speak favourably about this man and back up the Australian Bishops Conferences tribute to Morris. With respect Cardinal Pell, the man caused scandal among the Faithful, had has had one vocation in 18 years, only three priests in the whole diocese did not support sending a letter of complaint to Rome. From this we may gather that only three priests in the whole diocese are Faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church – Well done Morris. What “good work” in terms of being a Catholic bishop has this man done? As an ordinary Catholic without any high qualifications I am quite unable to rise above all that Bp Morris did to damage the Church in Australia and speak irenically about him. In the latter part of my life I stand in the wreckage, presided over by the Australian bishops, of what used to be Catholicism in Australia and I keen for my Church.

  3. Peter in Canberra says:

    Firstly, Fr Z mentioned Summorum Pontificum. Bishop Morris, pre-SP, did allow the EF Mass once a month, somewhat grudgingly I understand, but he did allow it. Unfortunately when the aged priest who offered it felt he couldn’t continue no accomodation was provided for anyone else to do so (as I understand it). It wasn’t much but given other things it was better than nothing. Sadly however I know of good families who are now at the SSPX who used to be heavily involved in the diocese.

    Apropos the comments of “good parish priest” I think that there was plenty of mileage on the clock in the wrong direction when he was put forward … (he was a PP on Qld’s Gold Coast). And he was appointed by JPII. My personal opinion is that lots of BAD appointments were made by JPII. [However there are still questions about some of the appointments made by B XVI – time will tell – the joke in Australia used to be that the episcopal consecration rite removed the spine …]

    I also recall talk of Bp Morris being something of a compromise candidate and that the successor favoured by Bp Edward Kelly (rip) was not acceptable to the rank & file clergy of the diocese (too orthodox? and THEY keep talking about TEMPLE POLICE – its easy to be a pharisee when you see anyone who opposes you as one ). And there is lots of wishy washy stuff in the diocese, whether by clear design or simply by the inexorable slide into it that plagues the whole of the Australian Catholic community (imo).

    And Card Pell, while viewed by the liberals as an arch enemy (rightly so), he is not the copybook traditionalist some would have him be. Perhaps there is an element of ‘we’re all Aussies in this together’. Who knows. Perhaps he is simply trying to plot a middle course in his message to try to foster a unified outcome.

    And lastly, what of Bishops’ conferences? In theory I suppose they are supposed to be a bulwark (middle management?) against renegade bishops. However this collegiality seems almost without exception to be a recipe for systemic, sellout, compromise. You only have to read the piece of dishwater the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued: http://www.catholic.org.au/ – Letter to Bishop Brian Finnigan (12 May 2011).

  4. Thomas G. says:

    Respectfully, Fr. Z, I don’t think he would “have made a great parish priest”. He was heterodox and didn’t even seem to know the Catholic faith. Indeed, as a parish priest he would have flown well below the radar and been in a position to damage the faith of many.

    I know these sorts of things (“great parish priest”) are said out of charity to a man who has been publicly rebuked – no need to kick a man when he’s down – but . . . .

  5. Samthe44 says:

    I hope he succeeds our Holy Father as Pope.

  6. Peter in Canberra says:

    PS
    I should say that the Cardinal’s article was very good. I was responding to the intersecting issues

  7. Father K says:

    Samthe44

    Who? Cardinal Pell or Bishop Morris!!! [lol]

  8. Gail F says:

    Perhaps what Fr. Z meant by saying he might have made a great parish priest is that some people are simply not supposed to be in charge of things. They have zeal and compassion and gifts of many kinds, but they also tend to go off in odd directions without direction. With competent and firm leadership, their wacky tendencies are reined in and their good qualities are put to use for everyone’s benefit. I’m sure we can all think of examples of this. Perhaps Bishop Morris would have been a great priest under a great bishop, but sadly he was put in a different position.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    “Young people don’t see the Catholic Church as being inevitably in decline at least in most parts of Australia.”

    This is an interesting statement. He may just be cheerleading here, or he may be talking about the portion of young people who are immersed in the Catholic faith as members of the church. I’m not sure.

  10. Fr. Basil says:

    Speaking as an Easterner, I have no problem with married priests. I know several in my own city, not only of Eastern Catholic Churches, but one of the Roman Church. I was blessed to attend his ordination.

    However, something is clearly wrong with Bp. Morris’s ecclesiology if he thinks that a Protestant minister has the same charismata given to priests ordained by a bishop of the apostolic succession.

  11. Patti Day says:

    “Catholics stand with the Pope as the successor of Peter and his role is to strengthen his brothers and to defend the apostolic tradition, and it’s NOW Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained priests. That’s not an optional belief; it’s NOW part of the Catholic package,” said Cardinal Pell

    I’m confused about the use of the word ‘now’ used twice in Cardinal Pell’s interview. It seems to me to say that ordination of women is ‘currently’ Catholic teaching, and that it’s not an optional belief because it’s ‘currently’ part of the Catholic package. Am I misreading this?

  12. EWTN Rocks says:

    I read that Bp. Toowoomba acknowledges Pope Benedict’s patience, and still has a great deal of respect for him. The article said that Bp. Toowoomba, realizing his impending depature was creating great strife and turmoil in the Vatican, hastily submitted an emotional letter of resignation prior to the official Vatican announcement. He did so out of respect for the pope. He also has high regard for Cardinal Pell and hoped for a middle ground. Bp. Toowoomba hopes to continue communication with the Vatican in some way. He also hopes that one day in the future, the pope will consider ordination of women. Finally, Bp. Toowoomba is pleased Cardinal Pell appointed Bp. Finnegan for whom he also greatly admires and holds in the highest regard.

  13. APX says:

    @Patti Day

    I was confused by the use of the word “now” too. It makes it sound as if at some point it had been possible, which we all kn0w is impossible. Women can’t be priests. They never could, and they never will be able.

    @Fr. Basil

    I have a hard time with the notion of married priests. I don’t see how a diocese could afford to financially support his entire family. Most importantly, I don’t see how he could balance his duties to his flock as a priest, and his duties to his family. Something would have to give, or the priest would burn out. To do both would be the equivalent of working at least two full time jobs, except as a priest, you’re on-call 24/7 pretty much.

  14. A few points. First, we all know that the good Cardinal is not afraid of calling a spade a spade. When he says that +Morris is a good man with many positive marks of character, I believe him. He’s clearly also making sure that (the wrong) people don’t have the opportunity to spin this as “+Pell vs +Morris in Vatican Powerplay” or other such claptrap – by emphasising +Morris’ good qualities while firmly supporting his dismissal, +Pell denies his enemies the opportunity to distort the issue.

    Second, I think +Pell’s use of “now…now” is just a bit of a shortcut referring to the dogmatic settlement of the supposed theological questions around the “ordination” of women. Until Bl John Paul made the position of the Church clear beyond any dispute, theologians were claiming that the issue could be legitimately discussed, and bishops were listening to them. We all know this, and so does +Pell, but the journalists may not. Clearly +Pell doesn’t want to get bogged down in what is essentially a tangent to this article’s main point.

    Finally, what +Pell has said about orthodoxy, vocations, university chaplaincies and the impact of WYDSYD 08 are all on display in his own Archdiocese, as well as the suffragans and others in his sphere of influence (eg Melbourne, his previous See). In my opinion the keystone was his masterful handling of the university chaplaincies. In a handful of years +Pell outright tossed the pantheist, lesbian “chaplains” out on their arses and started afresh. He arranged staff, offices on campus and funding to make sure there was a real, faithful, fruitful Catholic presence on campuses and IT HAS WORKED. Because of this the Good Shepherd seminary is full, and several priests are ordained each year. More young, intelligent, orthodox Catholics are becoming religious, are getting married, are raising wholesome families and are re-injecting life into the Church in Sydney and beyond. +Pell’s influence extends to Parramatta, where his hand-picked former auxiliary (+Fisher) is now ordinary and a rising star. He’s just selected another promisimg auxiliary, +Comensoli, who is in Edinburgh defending his doctorate in moral theology. +Pell has invited and encouraged young, faithful, habited religious orders of both men and women to develop a visible presence in Sydney, even inviting some flourishing American foundations to establish daughter-houses in Australia.

    This post has turned into something of an apology for +Pell in an article already displaying some of his best points, but I really think it’s important that people see just how he has done so much good in Sydney.

  15. Scott W. says:

    Perhaps what Fr. Z meant by saying he might have made a great parish priest is that some people are simply not supposed to be in charge of things.

    That was my thought. That Morris was an example of the Peter Principle

  16. BLB Oregon says:

    Fr. Basil wrote: “Speaking as an Easterner, I have no problem with married priests. I know several in my own city, not only of Eastern Catholic Churches, but one of the Roman Church. I was blessed to attend his ordination.”

    I wish that more Westerners appreciated that while the East ordains both married and unmarried men, none of the ordained in the East may marry after ordination, either. I know at least two Roman Catholic priests who sought laicization so the they could marry. That was so sad, but I don’t think enough in the West appreciate that those two couldn’t have married after ordination in the Eastern Church, either.

  17. Dr. Eric says:

    “I don’t see how he could balance his duties to his flock as a priest, and his duties to his family. Something would have to give, or the priest would burn out. To do both would be the equivalent of working at least two full time jobs, except as a priest, you’re on-call 24/7 pretty much.”

    APX, how do you think us doctors do it?

  18. APX says:

    @Dr. Eric

    I’m not sure about where you are, but here our doctors will only take so many patients and turn the rest away. With all due respect, priests don’t really have that option.

  19. @Dr. Eric

    Doctors are far more numerous, and paid an order of magnitude better than priests. Relatively few are on 24/7 call, since most of the work of most of the doctors can wait for daylight hours. On the other hand priests are spread thin, are paid only enough for day-to-day needs, and are almost all expected to be available for the deathbed call at midnight.

  20. Father S. says:

    Here in the US, the Church seems on decline where practice is insipid. I hate offering Holy Mass in those places; they are like ghost towns. On the other hand, where the Faith is taught fully (in orthodoxy and orthopraxis, by the way) great things happen. Just this morning I was talking with an altar server who told me about how it was great to go to a Catholic high school where they could trust they were receiving the Faith and not their teacher’s augmented faith. It made my heart leap. Kids and young folks get it if the Faith is taught. Otherwise, they see emptiness and turn away.

  21. “‘[It is] now Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained priests. That’s not an optional belief; it’s now part of the Catholic package,’ said Cardinal Pell.”

    I am sure Cardinal Pell knows this, and I know enough about journalism and journalists not to make a theological issue out of how this has been reported. Without turning this into a Federal case, though, it still is worth saying that Blessed JPII, in Ordinatio sacerdotalis, was at pains – great pains – to show how the reservation of Orders to baptized males, only, has always been held as a matter of faith by the whole Church from Apostolic times down to the present, and so as a matter of Divine positive law (i.e. most emphatically not as a matter of discipline). Said shortly: the male only priesthood is taught by the whole Church as a matter of ordinary magisterium. It is strictly true to say that this teaching is “now” part of the Catholic package. It is now part of the Catholic package because it has always been a part of the Catholic package.

  22. Pearty says:

    For those whose Australian English is a little rusty, I’ll translate:
    “He’s a very good man” = He’s an awful bishop
    “He had a lot of pastoral strengths” = He was clueless about the teaching of the Church
    “He’s got a lot of good points” = He has very few good points
    “He’s done of lot of good work” = The diocese hasn’t ceased to exist
    “He’s got quite a strong following in the diocese” = He was popular with people who are clueless about the teaching of the Church.

  23. Andrew says:

    Well I think it was very charitable of Fr Z and Cardinal Pell to allude to possible positive qualities in Bishop William Morris.

    Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say that there is some good in every person. Next week, ABC TV in Australia, is going to feature a story including the first televised interview with him since the bishop’s sacking, on the religious program, Compass.

    In one snippet of the interview Bishop Morris supports the right of Pope Benedict to have removed him from office, but wishes there had been more of a dialogue with the Holy See. (Well My Lord, these problems have existed for 13 years, and the lack of communication may have just as much been your fault as it was Rome’s) But here at least, he is in speaking in a respectful manner. He is hardly a Fr Peter Kennedy, that fellow Queenslander who took St Mary’s Church in South Brisbane, into exile, after shocking aberrations. (Interestingly, Compass was about him this week, and what a hoot that was!)

    As someone who commentates on the Australian scene quite a bit, I have been informed of the Toowoomba situation for some time, and I am delighted with the action of the Vatican, following Archbishop Chaput’s apostolic visitation in 2006.

    But now that he is gone from there, let us be charitable in our assessment of the man. It is such a pity that with his very positive pastoral style, he backed the wrong horse. But hasn’t that been the story with so many individuals this last 40-50 years or so. We pray that they will all find their way home.

  24. antipodeantony says:

    Speaking from experience as young Catholic university student in the Sydney Archdiocese I can attest to the great work that Cardinal Pell is doing with the youth in the archdiocese. There is a very active core of devout, orthodox young Catholics which is steadily growing and extending its influence into surrounding diocese and indeed the whole country through organisations like the Australian Catholic Students Associations (young liberal Catholics are almost extinct or ghettoed away with certain youth programs of liberal religious orders in the archdiocese).

    He has been extremely generous in his support of the chaplaincies at the universities in the diocese, is strengthening the RE program in the diocesan schools (and training new faithful Catholic teachers), inviting blossoming youthful and faithful religious orders into the diocese like the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia from Nashville. Things are looking up for the Church in Sydney.