Pell says Church is in "safe hands"

The election of Pope Benedict XVI means "the Church is in safe hands", Sydney Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, has told the Catholic Weekly for this Sunday's cover story.

"This will not be an inert, transitional papacy," he said. "I am sure the Holy Father will move energetically to do what he sees as God's will for the Church."

Cardinal Pell says he expects that Pope Benedict XVI will move "quietly and effectively" to place the Church on a more missionary footing during his papacy.

"He will be his own man, with his own style, while following in the general line of Pope John Paul II.

"He is a person of genuine spirituality, probably the best living Catholic theologian and has a deep understanding of the pressures on the Church in European cultures like ours and North America," he said.

Speaking to The Catholic Weekly from Rome before his return to Sydney, Cardinal Pell said he also expected the Pope to direct the bureaucracy of the Church more explicitly towards the preaching of the gospel.

Cardinal Pell was quick, too, to dampen speculation that he will be appointed to a curial position in Rome.

"Most bishops, like most priests, strive to do as they are asked by higher authorities," he said. "In most cases they do not 'run' for office, officially or unofficially. That has always been my own position.

"For a number of good reasons I believe that I will remain as Archbishop of Sydney.

"There is work to be done and I am keen to do it."

Cardinal Pell also pointed out that being Archbishop of Sydney is an important position and, "while it would be an honour to be asked to fill a leadership role in the Vatican, to go to most of these positions would not be a promotion for any Archbishop of Sydney".

Cardinal Pell said the coverage by the world media in recent weeks has been "excellent".

"I am grateful for this opportunity to show what Catholicism is about and am particularly grateful to those Australian journalists who were in Rome and to Marita Winters, my press officer, who came to Rome for her honeymoon," he said.

Meanwhile, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Archbishop Francis Carroll, has written in the May issue of Catholic Voice newspaper that he was surprised by how quickly the new Pope was elected.

"It was almost by accident that I was there in time to see the white smoke and wait for the pealing of the bells of St Peter's announcing the gaudium magnum - the great joy that we have a new Pope," he said. "Personally I was surprised that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected even though he was probably the one most favoured by the media beforehand."

"His choice of name, Benedict, is a wonderful one given the stature of St Benedict and the enduring strength of Benedictine spirituality in the life of the Church," he said.

Archbishop Caroll conceded that Benedict XVI "will not have the same charisma as John Paul II", but stressed that he will fulfil the office of Christ's Vicar "in his own way and in accordance with his own personality and gifts".

"It would be unwise and even unjust to do what many have done, or will do, to paint him in too rigid a pattern."

'The Church is in safe hands - Cardinal Pell (Catholic Weekly 1/5/05)
Archbishop Francis Carroll: Let's see what surprises the new Pope brings (Catholic Voice May 2005)

28 Apr 2005