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Downer lashes Pell critics


On the eve of a scheduled meeting with Pope John Paul II, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has hit out at those who have criticised the elevation of Sydney Archbishop George Pell to College of Cardinals.

A number of observers have argued that Dr Pell's views are out of touch with those of most of Australia's five million Catholics. Mr Downer singled out Canberra Bishop Pat Power, whom he said had been particularly "fiery".

Bishop Power told ABC Radio's AM program that Pell's elevation represents a rise of "neoconservatism" in the Church that "shows the Church to be representing many elements that I think are not doing the Church very much good at the moment".

Mr Downer described the critics as "intolerant".

"It's a pity. I think they could show a bit more tolerance than that," he said. "I am not a Catholic and it is a matter for the church, not the state, but I did not approve of the criticism."

He said many people would wonder what the point was in attacking Dr Pell after an appointment that should have been celebrated.

"You are not going to undo the appointment (so) why say that?" he aske.

Mr Downer said the Government was delighted with the choice of Dr Pell.

"I certainly want to congratulate the Pope on the appointment," he said. "The Government regards him as a good choice. We are delighted there is a new Australian cardinal, and such a distinguished Australian."

Prime Minister John Howard also paid tribute to Dr Pell on Monday, saying he has "a very high personal regard for George Pell".

"I think he's a great intellectual, he's a person of great determination and strength. I wish him well," he said.

Earlier this year, Dr Pell defended Mr Downer when he came under fire from representatives of a number for churches after criticising clergy for speaking out on public issues such as the war with Iraq while neglecting their pastoral duties.

SOURCE
The Australian (payment required)

LINKS
Foreign Minister
Howard congratulates Pell (news.com.au/AAP)
Pell says Downer had a point (29/8/03)
Bishop of Canberra on Pell's appointment (ABC Radio AM 29/9/03)
Australian bishop unhappy that colleague will become cardinal (Catholic World News)
Muriel Porter: Pell's promotion cements push to a narrow church (The Age)
Australian cardinal-designate is no stranger to controversy (Catholic News Service)
Australia's Cardinal-Designate on His Priorities (Zenit)
Paul Collins on the newest Cardinals (ABC Radio Religion Report)
Editorial: Cardinal Pell
Barney Zwartz: The inexorable rise of George Pell (The Age 1/10/03) payment required
Newspaper continues 'Pell for Rome' speculation (1/10/03)
Archbishop Carroll welcomes new Australian Cardinal (30/9/03)
Pope announces Pell elevation to College of Cardinals (29/9/03)
Archdiocese of Sydney | Send a letter of support to Cardinal Pell

2 Oct 2003