After the death of Card. Pell, the gloves are coming off.

His Eminence George Card. Pell

I firmly believe that Card. Pell would have been a “kingmaker” in an upcoming conclave because of his ecclesiastical experience, his personality, and his enormous moral authority after his persecution and unjust imprisonment.

As one of my correspondents wrote, rightly, “Shall we see his like again?”

I direct the readership to four necessary items to read.

First, there is the “Demos Memo”, written under the pseudonym last year but confirmed as Pell’s.  HERE


The first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore a proper respect for the law and ensure that the first criterion for the nomination of bishops is acceptance of the apostolic tradition. Theological expertise and learning are an advantage, not a hinderance for all bishops and especially archbishops.

Next, there is Pell’s own piece in The Spectator which came the day after he died.  Of course, he wrote it and wanted it published believing that he was going to be aliveHERE


The Catholic Synod of Bishops is now busy constructing what they think of as ‘God’s dream’ of synodality. Unfortunately this divine dream has developed into a toxic nightmare despite the bishops’ professed good intentions.

Next, George Weigel wrote a piece about Pell at First ThingsHERE


Whatever brickbats will be thrown at the grave of Cardinal Pell because of these two testamentary statements, serious people in the Church will focus on the question of whether these texts accurately describe the current Catholic situation. I believe they do. Let the critics demonstrate the opposite.

Also, Robert Royal penned a piece at The Catholic Thing about Pell and the two documents mentioned above.  HERE


Pell’s earlier memo is equally blunt, claiming that in the eyes of everyone, except for a few figures close to the pope, “this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe.” Not only is Francis failing to maintain truths of the faith, when he speaks to them it often creates greater confusion. Pell lists the usual moral controversies but even identifies a kind of uncertainty on something basic like monotheism (e.g., Pachamama at the Synod on the Amazon).

The orthodox are suspect, the heterodox welcomed. Canonical procedures are ignored, phones are tapped, finances (which Pell was ready to reform) are better but still bad. There’s “little support among seminarians and young priests and wide-spread disaffection exists in the Vatican Curia.”


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “Perversi difficile corriguntur, et stultorum infinitus est numerus.”

  2. Robbie says:

    George Weigle’s column feels like a tipping point. He has been a reluctant critic, yet he endorsed Cardinal Pell’s memo. For him to do so, given his past, suggests, as has been noted by others, that discontent is widespread and discussed openly in Rome. This won’t impact how the current pope operates, but I have to believe it will absolutely affect how the next pope is chosen, assuming that happens anytime relatively soon.

  3. Pingback: TVESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  4. DvdH says:

    Tonight’s Mass streamed from the ICKSP in Limerick, Ireland, was a Requiem Mass for Cardinal Pell.

  5. Sophronius says:

    I can confirm as a fact the George Weigel was critical, but only off the record. He, like myself, have finally found the right words to charitably criticize this pontificate.

  6. summorumpontificum777 says:

    George Weigel would be the first to tell you that he’s a Vatican 2 / Novus Ordo guy through and through. Among all self-described Catholics in the U.S., Weigel’s views would be considered center-right. But among practicing U.S. Catholics in the pews on a typical Sunday, Weigel’s views are essentially indicative of the median. The fact that someone like him is as troubled by this pontificate as he is should be setting off alarm bells in the U.S. episcopacy… and in Rome. For the Vatican to be so out of sync with mainstream practicing Catholics indicates a disconnect between Rome and the faithful the likes of which hasn’t been seen the early 16th century. The 2020s are starting to look like the 1520s for the Church.

  7. Gaetano says:

    Pell’s critique of Pope Francis’ seemingly constitutive flaws may mean that we’ll never see another Jesuit Pope – or at least not for several centuries.

  8. robtbrown says:

    This papacy is out of sync because it is out of touch. The pope speaks about nostalgia for the past without realizing that it describes his attitude toward 1970s Jesuit ideology.

  9. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Such an insightful comment above by robtbrown about the pope being out of touch. I think of the Holy Father’s recent charming anecdote about an American bishop who bragged about denying his seminarians’ desire to study Latin. The bishop allegedly told the seminarians that he’d allow them to learn Latin after they mastered Spanish and Vietnamese. Who exactly is living in the past here? In the ’70s, it may indeed have been possible for a Jesuit superior like Father Bergoglio to micromanage the language studies of his charges. However, in 2023, in an era of smartphones, Rosetta, Duolingo and YouTube, a seminarian can easily master Latin or any other language with neither the approval nor the consent nor even the knowledge of his bishop.

    [Can and SHOULD.]

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