Congratulations to a "Controversial" Cardinal


Written on 4:27 PM by Jack B.

My favorite cardinal, George Pell of Sydney, has been honored in the Queen's Birthday Honours List giving him the Aussie equivalent of a knighthood.


Cardinal Pell, one of seven people to receive the highest Australian award in the Queens birthday honours list, is among the most controversial churchmen of modern times.

"Yes, there has been some controversy," said Cardinal Pell, who stood aside as Archbishop of Sydney three years ago when he was accused - and later cleared - of sexually abusing an altar boy at a church camp in 1961.

"But a little bit of controversy is better than being ignored.

"I am deeply honoured by this recognition, both personally and for the Catholic Church," he said on being appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).

"It is a recognition of the Catholic contribution to Australian life, and I am also grateful for this," said the archbishop, who since the dark days of 2002 has been appointed Australia's seventh cardinal, has gone to Rome to help elect a new Pope and now has been awarded a Queen's Birthday honour.

Cardinal Pell, once described as having a "hide several rhinoceroses thick" has angered many progressives with his insistence that basic church teachings are non-negotiable.

The Ballarat-born archbishop, who chose the priesthood over a football career with AFL club Richmond, consistently refused communion to openly gay parishioners and once called homosexuality "a greater health hazard than smoking".

He angered feminists by opposing female priests, and opposed access to in-vitro fertilisation for single women.

Gay rights and pro-choice activists demonstrated against his appointment as Sydney archbishop by bearing placards reading: "George Pell, Go To Hell".

The archbishop entered the education debate in the last federal election, saying Labor's planned redistribution of funds between non-government schools was "potentially divisive" and "regrettable".

He offered to appeal for clemency if any of the "Bali nine" Australians arrested for drug smuggling are convicted and given the death penalty, and to take their case to new Pope Benedict XVI.

And he criticised the federal government's immigration policies as "too tough" when commenting on the case of Vivian Alvarez, wrongly deported four years ago and later found in a Catholic hospice in the Philippines.

The thing I think I like most about him is that he doesn't hide away from media descriptions of him as "controversial" or "uncompromising" but glories in them and makes no bones about the fact that some things are "non-negotiable" no matter how much pressure is put on him or the Church. Just take a look at how he deals with the description in an interview done in light of his honor.
PETER CAVE: Personally you have sometimes been criticised for your uncompromising view, particularly on moral issues, do you think this award is a vindication of that uncompromising attitude?

GEORGE PELL: Not necessarily. I think it's a vindication that the Christian point of view is one of the legitimate points of view in Australian society. I don't think the award is anything more than that, but I think it is that.

PETER CAVE: Your own biographer has described you as a controversial churchman, perhaps the most controversial churchman in Australia. Do you shrink away from that?

GEORGE PELL: Um, I think I'd have quite a bit of competition for that title, perhaps even from the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, but no, I don't shrink from the title. I hope I present Christ's teachings in the Catholic tradition. I try to do that as effectively as I can.

Of course not every one is happy about it. The website plays the story this way: Queen's List Honors Cardinal Who Refused Gays Communion

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