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Who Will Step Up to Replace Cardinal Pell in Defending Truth of the Catholic Faith?

Immediate reflections following the shocking death of Cardinal George Pell have focused on the Australian prelate’s heroic endurance of false accusations of sexual abuse. And rightfully so.

Cardinal Pell’s fortitude in the face of such ideologically motivated injustices, which included 404 days of solitary confinement in a Melbourne prison cell before the charges were quashed by the Australian High Court in April 2020, were an inspiration to Catholics across the world, a compelling example of faithfully enduring the kind of persecution that Christ foretold those who follow him would face.

But far less attention has been given to the significant role Cardinal Pell took up after his post-exoneration return to Rome in 2020 — a role that makes his passing at this moment in the life of the Church all the more significant.

An outspoken and public advocate for doctrinal orthodoxy going back to his days as a bishop in Australia, Cardinal Pell’s profile took on new stature following his exoneration. The trials he endured, recounted in his published Prison Journal, raised his status beyond defender of the faith to a witness to it, communicating the truth of the Gospel not only through what he was willing to say, but he was willing to suffer. It has even been reported that the late Benedict XVI enjoyed having passages of Cardinal Pell’s Journal read to him in his final years.

Furthermore, although officially retired, the Australian cardinal’s activity didn’t cease upon his return to Rome. Freed from official ecclesial responsibilities as the prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy and as one of Pope Francis’ hand-picked “council of cardinal” advisers, Cardinal Pell showed a willingness to speak out about threats to orthodoxy within the Church with more vigor and universality than ever before.

He was one of the first cardinals to sign onto a fraternal letter of correction from the world’s bishops to the German episcopacy over the potentially schismatic Synodal Way, describing the bishops’ push there for women’s ordination and the blessing of same-sex sexual relations as “an explicit disavowal and rejection Christian teaching.” Cardinal Pell publicly called upon the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to intervene in the matter, a theme he reiterated after two prominent European clerics, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg and the German bishops’ conference president, Bishop Georg Bätzing, made public comments amounting to a “wholesale and explicit rejection” of the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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