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Speculation puts Pell in Ratzinger job

The Weekend Australian newspaper gave space to talk that Sydney Archbishop George Pell could be imminently "summoned to a senior post in the Vatican", which might be that of the soon to retire Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

A second report in this morning's Australian even speculates on possible successors to Dr Pell, including Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth and Archbishop Phillip Wilson of Adelaide, although Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay is the "wild card".

The Weekend Australian quotes Oxford theology professor Ian Ker's assertion that Dr Pell has already been mentioned as a possible Ratzinger replacement. But it says other observers, such as Irish Catholic editor David Quinn, say the Pope considers him "a model bishop" and may prefer to leave him to exert his influence in Sydney for several more years.

The Pope is expected to name a new batch of cardinals soon, perhaps in February next year, and the 62 year old Pell is assumed to be on the list. National Catholic Reporter correspondent John Allen ranks him as the single most likely bishop to be on the list of new cardinals.

Dr Pell's case for promotion is strengthened by the fact that Australia has no active cardinals and is about to lose its voice in the College of Cardinals, which elects the Pope. Within a year the Oceania region will have only one Cardinal who is under the age of 80 and eligible to vote for the next Pope.

Quinn tole The Weekend Australian correspondent that he would be "absolutely amazed" if Dr Pell was left off the promotion list.

"He is forceful, orthodox and doesn't mind taking a lead in public debate or getting involved in controversy, and the Pope admires all of those traits."

One priest in Rome said that the allegations of sexual assault made against Dr Pell and subsequently dropped last year had not hindered his prospects of promotion.

Weekend Australian
The Australian (payment required)

Rumours suggest Pell could be named cardinal soon (19/8/03)
Pell for cardinal? Rumour mill says yes (The Age 20/8/03)
Archdiocese of Sydney | Archbishop George Pell biography
Archbishop George Pell (
Top Cardinals' retirement rumoured (5/8/03)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson (
Archbishop Barry James Hickey (

25 Aug 2003