Cardinal Pell Was “Demos”

March 17, 2023
Cardinal George Pell with Cardinal Keith O'Brien

On January 10, 2023, in Rome, Australian Cardinal George Pell, former prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See, died following hip surgery that led to heart complications. He was 81 years old.

The Synod on Synodality: A “Toxic Nightmare”

Shortly before his death, Cardinal Pell had sent an article to the British newspaper The Spectator on the upcoming synod on synodality, bluntly headlined: “The Catholic Church must free itself from this ‘toxic nightmare.’”

As journalist Damian Thompson pointed out when presenting this article published the day after Cardinal Pell’s death, on January 11: “He did not know he was about to die when he wrote this piece; he was prepared to face the fury of Pope Francis and the organisers [of the synod] when it was published.” Here are some excerpts from this courageous and lucid analysis:

“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.”

“These have produced a 45-page booklet which presents its account of the discussions of the first stage of ‘listening and discernment,’ held in many parts of the world, and it is one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome.”

“With no sense of irony, the document is entitled ‘Enlarge the Space of Your Tent’, and the aim of doing so is to accommodate, not the newly baptised —those who have answered the call to repent and believe — but anyone who might be interested enough to listen. Participants are urged to be welcoming and radically inclusive: ‘No one is excluded’.”

“The document does not urge even the Catholic participants to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), much less to preach the Saviour in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).”

“The first task for everyone and especially the teachers, is to listen in the Spirit. According to this recent update of the good news, ‘synodality’ as a way of being for the Church is not to be defined, but just to be lived.”

“It revolves around five creative tensions, starting from radical inclusion and moving towards mission in a participatory style, practicing ‘co-responsibility with other believers and people of good will’. Difficulties are acknowledged, such as war, genocide and the gap between clergy and laity, but all can be sustained, say the Bishops, by a lively spirituality.”

“The image of the Church as an expanding tent with the Lord at its centre comes from Isaiah, and the point of it is to emphasise that this expanding tent is a place where people are heard and not judged, not excluded.”

“So we read that the people of God need new strategies; not quarrels and clashes but dialogue, where the distinction between believers and unbelievers is rejected. The people of God must actually listen, it insists, to the cry of the poor and of the earth.”

“Because of differences of opinion on abortion, contraception, the ordination of women to the priesthood and homosexual activity, some felt that no definitive positions on these issues can be established or proposed. This is also true of polygamy, and divorce and remarriage.”

“What is one to make of this potpourri, this outpouring of New Age good will? It is not a summary of Catholic faith or New Testament teaching. It is incomplete, hostile in significant ways to the apostolic tradition and nowhere acknowledges the New Testament as the Word of God, normative for all teaching on faith and morals.”

“The Old Testament is ignored, patriarchy rejected and the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments, is not acknowledged. “To end this damning analysis, Cardinal Pell did not hesitate to agree with recent converts who could only observe:

“The ex-Anglicans among us are right to identify the deepening confusion, the attack on traditional morals and the insertion into the dialogue of neo-Marxist jargon about exclusion, alienation, identity, marginalisation, the voiceless, LGBTQ as well as the displacement of Christian notions of forgiveness, sin, sacrifice, healing, redemption. Why the silence on the afterlife of reward or punishment, on the four last things; death and judgement, heaven and hell?”

On the same day, January 11, the Vaticanist Sandro Magister revealed that the memorandum he had posted on his blog Settimo Cielo on March 15, 2022, mysteriously signed “Demos,” was authored by Cardinal Pell.

This memorandum, very critical of Francis’ pontificate, had circulated among the cardinals last spring, in view of a future conclave. Large excerpts can be found at the link below. For the record, here are a few that are particularly significant:

“Previously, we said: Roma locuta. Causa finita est [Rome has spoken, the case is closed]. Today, we say: Roma loquitur. Confusio augetur [Rome speaks, confusion increases]:

(A) The German synod speaks on homosexuality, women priests, communion for the divorced [and remarried]. The papacy is silent.

(B) Cardinal Hollerich rejects the Christian teaching on sexuality. The Papacy is silent. This is doubly significant because the Cardinal is explicitly heretical; he does not use code or hints. If the Cardinal were to continue without Roman correction, this would represent another deeper breakdown of discipline, with few (any?) precedents in history. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must act and speak.

(C) This silence is emphasized when contrasted with the active persecution of Traditionalists and the contemplative orders.”

Regarding a future conclave, the Australian prelate declared: “After Vatican II, Catholic authorities often underestimated the hostile power of secularization, the world, flesh and the devil, especially in the Western world and have overestimated the influence and strength of the Catholic Church.”

“We are weaker than 50 years ago and many factors are beyond our control, in the short term at least, e.g., the decline in the number of believers, the frequency of Mass attendance, the demise or extinction of many religious orders.”

Therefore, “the new pope must understand that the secret of Christian and Catholic vitality comes from fidelity to the teachings of Christ and Catholic practices. It does not come from adapting to the world or from money.”

And he adds: “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.”

The high prelate warned: “If the national or continental synods are given doctrinal authority, we will have a new danger to worldwide Church unity, whereby e.g., the German church holds doctrinal views not shared by other Churches and not compatible with the apostolic tradition.”

“If there was no Roman correction of such heresy, the Church would be reduced to a loose federation of local Churches, holding different views, probably closer to an Anglican or Protestant model, than an Orthodox model.”

And the former prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See concludes: “a lot of work is needed on the financial reforms in the Vatican, but this should not be the most important criterion in the selection of the next Pope. The Vatican has no substantial debts but continuing annual deficits will eventually lead to bankruptcy.”

Obviously, steps will be taken to remedy this, to separate the Vatican from criminal accomplices and balance revenue and expenditure. The Vatican will need to demonstrate competence and integrity to attract substantial donations to help with this problem.

“Despite the improved financial procedures and greater clarity, continuing financial pressures represent a major challenge, but they are much less important than the spiritual and doctrinal threats facing the Church, especially in the First World.”

In one of his last interviews, granted to the American site OSV News, Cardinal Pell confided: “I have now completely devoted myself to the Tridentine Mass which I celebrate every day.” There is no doubt that this rediscovery of the Traditional Mass greatly contributed to strengthening his judgment and strengthening his will to serve eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth.