The Australian cardinal George Pell, one of the eight cardinals that Pope Francis has chosen to advice him, agreed to talk about his experience of their historic meeting (October 1-3) with the Holy Father on the understanding that “the only substantial information” available about that gathering is what Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, gave to the media. “Anything that I might say will be peripheral to that”, he said; and “as one of the Pope’s councilors, I see that part of my task is to defend and explain the Holy Father, to support him in his role”.
On that basis, I interviewed him in Rome, October 17, five days after Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior-General of the Society of Saint Pius X, speaking in Kansas City, had launched a harsh attack on Pope Francis. I began by asking him to comment on that attack.
Q. Bishop Fellay has denounced Pope Francis as “a genuine modernist”, and charged that while the Church was “a disaster” before he was elected, he is making it “10,000 times worse”. What do you say to this?
A. To put it politely, I think that’s absolute rubbish! Francis said he’s a loyal son of the Church, and his record shows that. He’s very, very concerned for the day-to-day life of the people, and for those who are suffering, those not well off and those in difficult situations. He’s a completely faithful exponent of Christ’s teaching and the Church’s tradition.
Q. So people like Fellay have completely misread Pope Francis?
A. Yes, it is a gigantic misreading! In actual fact, the Lefebvrists – many of them – have misread the situation for decades. It was to Benedict’s great credit that he tried to reconcile with them, but they didn’t respond. Now the Church today accepts the Second Vatican Council. You don’t have to accept every jot and tittle of it, but it is part of Church’s life now, there’s no way around that.
Q. An Argentinean theologian, Father Carlos Galli, recently told me that he sees “the elder brother syndrome” emerging in the Church as Pope Francis goes out more and more to meet the prodigal sons. What do you say to that?
A. Well I think it is up to us elder-brothers, unlike the elder-brother in the parable, to get behind the father as he goes to meet the prodigal son. It’s our task to help him in that, to defend him.
There’s a lot more at the link. Enjoy.