Pell says distance creates Australian uncertainty about Pope's health
Cardinal George Pell has told Italy's I Media news agency that Sydneysiders are more preoccupied with the Pope's health than the Romans.
In Rome for several weeks, Cardinal Pell observed that there appears to be "less excitement, less disorder, less preoccupation on the subject of the Pope's health in Rome than in Sydney."
He suggested that because Australia is so far from Rome, and there is some uncertainty about the news that arrives there, many people in Sydney are convinced that the Pope's life is in serious jeopardy.
"Clearly the Pope is very sick, but the medical signs do not point toward imminent death," he said.
In fact, the cardinal said, he was surprised to see the energy that John Paul II displayed when he came to the window of his hospital room to bless the crowd at his Angelus audience. Cardinal Pell said that the Pope's public appearances continue to send a lesson to the world, because "suffering, like the facts of aging and sickness, is an important part of life." The Holy Father, he said, reinforces the dignity of age and suffering through his willingness to let people see him in his weakened condition.
Questioned about the Church in Australia, Cardinal Pell compared the situation with that in the US. He observed that "religion is not as influential in Australia as in the US, but anti-religious forces are not as powerful, either."
Religious influences still play an important role in public life, he reported; Australia does not face the same radical secularism that has created hostility to religious sentiments in Europe. It would be impossible, the cardinal said, to imagine a situation in Australia akin to the one in Europe, in which Rocco Buttiglione was denied a place on the European Commission because of his Christian views.
Nevertheless, the challenges facing Catholics in Australia are very similar to those in the Western world, Cardinal Pell continued. He mentioned "the great scandal of abortion"-- a topic on which Australia has only recently opened a serious public debate. There is also an urgent need to revive the faith among young people, and the cardinal mentioned that he hoped the next World Youth Day, after this year's celebration in Germany, would be held in Sydney in 2008.
Cardinal Pell lists Church's great challenges (Catholic World News 11/3/05)
Pell says he can't envisage priests marrying (CathNews 4/3/05)
Pell's key role in Vatican liturgy meeting (CathNews 29/2/05)
Pell backs Pope resolve to carry on (CathNews 28/2/05)
14 Mar 2005