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Pell blames Sunday sport for decline in mass attendance

Organised sport had taken the place of organised religion for many Australians on Sundays, Sydney's Cardinal George Pell said in an interview with the press published in today's Daily Telegraph.

Our increasingly busy lives have led to a decline in people attending religious services, according Cardinal Pell, himself a former AFL footballer.

Cardinal Pell said while the number of those identifying as Catholic in Sydney increased by 202,000 in the 2001 Census from 1996, only 18% attend mass weekly.

"There has been a very slow, steady decline in the number of people who are worshipping each week," Cardinal Pell said.

"The amount of sport that is played on Sunday. . . makes it difficult for families to get along. Both parents working - very ordinary, everyday pressures."

Cardinal Pell said he had encouraged schools and parishes to emphasise the importance of conversions to the faith, in particular for adults.

"The great Australian temptation is to think religion simply means morality," he said. "We need . . . explain the importance of meaning, how important it is to have a sense of purpose in your life."

While he would not speculate on whether he was in line to take a top posting in the Vatican, Cardinal Pell revealed that there was a "high possibility" that the College of Cardinals would choose a pope from South America.

"Half the Catholics in the world now . . . are in South America, so a South American pope would have to be a possibility.

Nation turns to sport on Sundays (Daily Telegraph 17/12/03)

Sport is a religion (Herald-Sun 17/12/03)
Archdiocese of Sydney | Parish Mass Times

17 Dec 2003