Cardinal Pell calls for ‘no doctrinal back-flips’ at next family synod

By Robert Duncan
Catholic News Service

(UPDATED Monday, Oct. 27)

ROME (CNS) – Looking ahead to the October 2015 world Synod of Bishops on the family, Cardinal George Pell said the task for Catholics “over the next 12 months” is to explain “the necessity of conversion, the nature of the Mass,” and “the purity of heart the Scriptures require of us to receive holy Communion.”

Cardinal Pell (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Pell (CNS/Paul Haring)

The cardinal’s comments came days after the conclusion of the 2014 extraordinary synod on the family, which debated making it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

“We will be counterproductive if we have anger or hate in our hearts, if we lapse into sterile polemics against a surprisingly small number of Catholic opponents,” the cardinal wrote.

Cardinal Pell’s remarks came in a homily he had prepared for a celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form Oct. 24 at Rome’s Church of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims.

The cardinal was unable to celebrate the liturgy, part of the Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome for devotees of the traditional Latin Mass, on account of bronchitis. In an additional prepared text, he assured those present that his sickness was the only reason he was unable to attend.

In the cardinal’s absence, his personal secretary Father Mark Withoos celebrated the Mass and read the homily.

The “college of bishops and all synods work by consensus,” Cardinal Pell wrote. Before next October, Catholics have to work to build a consensus “out of the present divisions,” he wrote.

“Pastoral practice and teachings can only be change by consensus,” he wrote.

“Doctrine does develop, we understand truth more deeply, but there are no doctrinal back-flips in Catholic history,” the cardinal wrote. “The apostolic tradition announced first by Christ and founded in the Scriptures is the touchstone for truth and genuine pastoral practice.”

“We, and especially you young people, must live this in love, giving reason for your hope,” he wrote. “This is a unique opportunity, which we must seize in God’s name.”

Cardinal Pell also wrote about the importance of the papacy in defending and developing doctrine.

“The role of the successor of St. Peter has always been vital to Christian and Catholic life, especially as the touchstone of doctrinal fidelity and as a resolver of disputes, pastoral as well as doctrinal,” the cardinal wrote.

“The church is not built on the rock of Peter’s faith,” he wrote, “but on Peter himself, despite his faults and failings.”

“Pope Francis is the 266th pope and history has seen 37 false or antipopes,” he wrote.

“The story of the popes is stranger than fiction,” the cardinal wrote, and today “we have one of the more unusual popes in history, enjoying almost unprecedented popularity. He is doing a marvelous job backing the financial reforms,” he wrote

Cardinal Pell concluded his written remarks with a prayer “I was taught as a child: May the Lord preserve the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and give him life. Keep him safe on earth and deliver him not up into the hands of his enemies.”

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24 Responses to Cardinal Pell calls for ‘no doctrinal back-flips’ at next family synod

  1. Jen says:

    These are the facts ,Pope Francis is not popular with practising Catholics! He is enjoying popularity with the gays and the cafeteria Catholics.

  2. “These are the facts…” followed, Jen, by a statement of what you want to believe. What I have seen to be the case amongst both my personal friends and those I have encountered solely on-line who are devout practising Catholics is that in many, indeed most if not quite all, cases they are impressed, even delighted, with this Pope’s easy, outgoing personality and his obvious attraction to and for so many so separated from the life of Faith. At the same time, however, they are greatly troubled by his tendency to say things seemingly off the cuff which are ambiguous (to say the least) and often sow confusion. But even more are they worried with his failure to properly explain things afterwards, leaving the media to run riot.

  3. cg says:

    Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses and commented:

  4. Anne says:

    so well respected is George cardinal pell who truly admires the Holy Father and Pope Francis is so well respected by the world and loved throughout it. We’ve been indeed Blessed with our Holy Father.

  5. cg says:

    Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologicae said, “Birds of a feather flock together.” (Cardinal Kasper never should have been made a cardinal especially since he does not believe in the Resurrection of Jesus nor the Miracles of Jesus. Pope Francis is friends with Cardinal Kasper. I will pray in thanksgiving for Cardinal Pell’s words of comfort. Cardinal Kasper and Pope Francis needs to get thee to a Confessional. Tired of the Pettiness and the Pope’s abuse of his Office, Homily and the Synod on Dissent not the Family.

  6. John Feehily says:

    This pope is making an impact upon catholics and non-catholics alike. He is helping everyone to understand that while Jesus is the truth, the most important truth he bears is that God loves all of us with a love beyond all telling. Other truths will be revealed, but only after we accept the Hesed of the Lord our God.

  7. Hermit Talker says:

    I have followed the normal rule and seen the pope’s actual comments, and dug behind the screen of media comments and his RC family taking sides and doing their spin. His phone call to a woman in Argentine that she should receive the Sacrament was not fair because no one was told her exact circumstances; giving interviews to an atheist 84-year old La Repubblica journalist who took no notes or a and admitted putting words in his mouth was not smart. However, his actual words and statements are solidly faithful, efforts to apply Jesus’ compassion to what is often rigid interpretation will win the day.

  8. Rosary Pilgrim says:

    Thank you, Robert, for this article. Although the commenters here make a good and valid point, it is refreshing to know that some Cardinals realize and address the problems caused by Kasper and Co., and the extremely confusing attitude and language of Pope Francis. And if decisions are made based on consensus, is there a way to press the Vatican within the next 12 months to send the progressive and liberal Cardinals on One way trip to Mars or Orion, or some other distant planet? Their vision of our Church is out of this world anyway.

  9. Kathy says:

    I had a friend who saw a priest on TV (I don’t know who it was), and she told me that he said that it looked like Catholics who are divorced and remarried will finally be able to return to the sacraments. Apparently whoever is responsible for public relations for the Synod isn’t doing his job well. I explained to her that that would never happen, but now I’m just as confused as everybody else.

  10. Nightengale says:

    I am shocked by the unChrist-like comments here. Christ said, “He who is without sin let him cast the first stone.” and welcomed all to recieve God’s love. But those here, would prevent the divorced majority from celebrating their love for God and separate them from the sacraments. I fear that those who would speak of the sins of others and make accusations against the Pope are representing the Church as a judgmental unwelcoming body who has forgotten that we do not parse out Christ’s gift of life and love. Shameful!

  11. Antoinette says:

    The doctrine on marriage will not change. But the discipline will for those parties who were innocent in the breakup of their marriage. They are the ones who want to be an active and practicing catholic and need the understanding of the church. I believe cardinal Kasper had them in mind.

  12. Just the other day, according to the Vatican Information Service bulletin, Pope Francis alleged that ‘corruption is worse than sin” (what does that mean? I thought sin offended God infinitely. So corruption is even worse?) and that there is to an “absolute condemnation of the death penalty, the use of which is rejected by Christians”. The Church does not consider the death penalty immoral. It is in fact licit for the state to execute criminals. Why is he lying to us? Why is he speaking so unclearly? Is the Holy Father meaning that we should not take anything he says seriously? Is the truth unimportant and he does not need to speak truth and that we will figure it out on our own?
    The Church cannot change its teaching on the illicitness of the death penalty. Pope John Paull II urged limitations on its use, but he did not say it was immoral or to be always condemned. It was required for Catholics to believe who having gone over to the Albignesian heresy, and then having repented and wishing to return to the Catholic Church had to swear that the state had the right to execute criminals. Is the Holy Father taking up Albigensian beliefs?
    I disagree that all his statements have been orthodox. Also, the Holy Father is actually a hindrance to evangelization. If anyone preach a different Gospel….. Don’t follow his error!

  13. Jim says:

    We have Catholic politicians who wage a relentless war on the unborn child, attack Christian marriage, attack religious liberty and the consciences of fellow Christians walking up for communion without a speck of remorse and without sanction. I’m just wondering where the consistency is?

  14. Janet O'Connor says:

    As far as the pope’s popularity goes the fact is he disdains conservatives and they feel that way about him. Yes birds of a feather do flock together. There is not certainty that dogma won’t change because if the Pope agrees with Kasper than it will change. He works for Francis so he has to put his nice face on it,

  15. John Feehily says:

    God may be infinitely offended by sin, whatever that means, but he appears to be infinitely loving towards sinners. JPII developed the church’s stance on capital punishment and Offended many doctrinaire conservatives in the process. Francis proposes a further development and the same crowd that adored Pope Woytyla jums all over him. Maybe the pope isn’t the supreme pastor and teacher after all.

  16. Rosary Pilgrim says:

    I really don’t understand why suddenly there is this push in the Church to change everything. st. JPII spent years talking about it, BXVI advised Bishop in poorer countries that they MUST send more priest to Rome to study canon law, so that those who see the annulment, don’t have to wait unreasonable periods of time (3-7) years, and then not being granted the annulment. BXVI made it really clear that such a long waiting periods are not fair to people who want to return to receive the Holy Communion. Cardinal Burke was absolutely right by saying that the annulment process works, and works really well. There is no need to change it except perhaps for instances of marital and child abuse. As for other cases of divorced and remarried, why do we always stress that humans have free will, but we fail to see, that their “irregular” relationship was precisely the exercise of their free will. They had a choice : Body of Christ, or the body of their partner. Let’s not try to sanctify something that isn’t Holy. This is not a punishment or judgement – Gods Mercy is unfathomable, and as far as I’m concerned, many who think of themselves as righteous will be surprised to find themselves in Hell. I’malso not saying that Holy Communion is not a big deal. It is Big Deal. But I bet God will be more pleased with those, who quietly sit in their pews while others commit sacrilege and present themselves for communion while not being in a state of grace. We need our Church to remain “clean” as She is the only place in today’s world that gives people hope and strength.

  17. Joan says:

    We’ve had a century of brilliant, stunning, fascinating popes who improved the Church forever, sometimes with just one encyclical. Now we have a friendly, chattering, clever pope who is like any avuncular parish pastor, nothing more or less – except that he has almost total power.

    After a century of “A” popes we now have a “C”. It’s going to be shocking, and for those who perceive the lack, disappointing. He is a good man, well-intentioned but not too smart in some ways, nor is he, by his own admission, well-educated. In other words, he’s a regular person with a big heart. But the contrast with the 5 popes before him, who we can all actually remember, and the 2 before who have at least 50 IQ points on him, is glaring.

  18. Erin Clare says:

    To all those speaking against Francis. Too bad you weren’t in on the enclave, eh?. What WERE those cardinals thinking when they elected him? I think all the strong opinions and arguments and discussions are probably good. It seems to me as though sometimes people want to project the political divisiveness of the US onto the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not an American political party.

  19. Jim says:

    Today Pope Francis spoke clearly, “The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” “you can call everything family, right?”
    “What is being proposed is not marriage, it’s an association. But it’s not marriage! It’s necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!”

    Get that National Catholic Reporter? DON’T call it marriage ! Don’t call in marriage without the quotation marks.

  20. See minute 55-60, where Cardinal Pell, like pope Francis, condones same-sex sexual relationships as long as they are not called marriage. One cannot support same-sex sexual relationships and remain in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

  21. cmichaellofton says:

    Im thankful for crdl Pell. We need a new athanasius and we may have one in Burke.

    Maybe Pell will be one too.

  22. Mark Ruzon says:

    For anyone to wish that a particular person or group of persons would leave the Church is to deny the unity that Jesus so fervently prayed for.

  23. Where does he get the number 37 for the number of anti-popes?

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