What to Make of Poor Cardinal Pell

I remember digesting the coverage of the trial of Cardinal Pell several years ago. It was obvious to me at the time that the whole thing was a massive set-up. What was not obvious were factors that would emerge in subsequent years. For instance, it now seems probably that Vatican entities connected with Cardinal Becciu wired money from the Vatican to Victoria to affect the outcome of the late Cardinal Pell’s prosecution. As a side note, what I’m saying here is that, to me, it looks like Becciu was working to get Pell locked up to get him out of the way. Remember, Pell was a Vatican financial watchdog and Becciu was wiring money to his charities run by his brother to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in addition to other shady investments. Pell was convicted and spent So Cardinal Pell was grievously wronged, right? Pell spent time in prison, forbidden to offer Mass, until Australian courts vacated his conviction. And then he returned to Rome.

And then there’s the Pell with questionables. Pell was celebrated in Trad(inc.) circles and to some extent he did emit a certain orthodox flair. He was staunchly opposed to ending priestly celibacy. Woohoo. That qualifies as orthodox these days? On the other hand (and I promise to look find the exact clip), Malachi Martin, in one of his Bernard Janzen interviews, describes by name a young Bishop Pell as a dangerous man who spouts whatever the current company line is. That section of the interview was actually a lot more damning for Pell than I just wrote. Seriously, I promise to locate the clip. It’s worth a listen. Pell was said to be difficult to work with, the kind of man most people wouldn’t mind seeing fall from grace due to his temperament. Granted that was several years back and serving thirteen months in prison for a crime one didn’t commit might certainly humble a man. One final point on the dubious creds of the cardinal… Here’s a quote I came across from a debate with Richard Dawkins that was televised in 2012. There are Pell’s own words.

“Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world.”

“A sophisticated, mythological account?” Thanks for the solid, Your Eminence. When you meet Adam and Eve, I hope they’re not too “mythologically” disappointing to you.

And then today I read accounts of his funeral in Rome. A “simple” affair. According to the Register, simple funerals for cardinals are the order of the day in the Vatican. I looked at the story and saw the picture of Pell’s casket resting on the floor. How odd. It certainly seemed like a final slap in the face to the man. Not even a bier? This reminded me of the time when my brother-in-law died two years ago and my sister asked me and another brother-in-law to be pall bearers. My other brother-in-law asked, “Just to be clear, you wanted us to be pall bearers or honorary pall bearers?” As she lit a Virginia Slim 120, my sister replied, “For God’s sake, the damn thing’s on wheels. It’s all honorary.” I get what they’re doing. They did it with Benedict. Let’s minimize the funeral and thereby minimize the life.

Nonetheless, it raises several questions and not enough answers for me. Cardinal Pell. Was he a complicated man? Was he orthodox? A Francis-loving (and thus heretic-loving) leftie? He was certainly a victim of politics and a man unjustly imprisoned and for that I hold him in some esteem. For the good things he said and did, I regard him kindly. For the things he said and did that fly in the face of orthodoxy, I think I feel compelled to offer prayers for him. You see, Cardinal Pell, may he rest in peace, seemed like so many others of the post-Vatican II Church. A fan of the phenomenologist JPII and a “Fwanciss is definitely pope, stupid” curial member, he also authored the “Demos Memo” telling the Cardinals what to do in the next conclave to eliminate the Bergoglian threat to the Church. Man, this guy was all over the map! If any of you can figure him out, please let me know.

Meanwhile I will offer this prayer for him.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

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