Pell says vitality of of faith requires strong papacy

Describing the election of Benedict XVI as "a clear affirmation of Catholic identity", Sydney's Cardinal George Pell told a St Mary's Cathedral congregation that included NSW Premier Bob Carr, that "a strong papacy is vital to the health of the Catholic faith."

The Cardinal's words are being reported as a rebuff for liberals in the Church, whom The Australian reports as having received a "reality check".

"Time will tell what will happen in the new pontificate, but for those hoping for radical change there is no reason for optimism in Benedict XVI," he said during his "upbeat" sermon in Sydney.

With charcoal etchings of Benedict adorning the cathedral, Cardinal Pell asked the congregation to support the Pope.

"A strong papacy is vital to the health of the Catholic faith," he said.

The Australian describes the health of Benedict himself as "another matter". It says Vatican insiders have revealed he suffered a mild stroke two years ago and has had health problems dating back to 1991, when he had a brain haemorrhage.

His condition was so serious he offered his resignation to his predecessor, John Paul II, for whom he worked as the Vatican's chief "doctrinal enforcer".

"This election indicates World War II is finally over, and we can now turn this terrible page in history," said Cardinal Pell

The service was part of the weekend's Carnivale Christi, a three-day festival celebrating Catholic themes in film and literature that drew thousands to St Mary's.

The premiere of Mother Teresa: The Movie was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, as well as a production of T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral.

"Catholicism is a religion that appeals to the mind as much as the heart," Cardinal Pell said. "We thank God his followers can produce so many beautiful creations."

He praised the diversity in the Catholic Church reflected in the festival participation of the Maronite, Melchite, Ukrainian and Chaldean churches.

"The diversity displayed here is what has allowed the Catholic Church to make a greater contribution to Western life than any other institution."

Pell dashes papal hopes of Catholic liberals (The Australian 2/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Carnivale Christi
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Pell to unveil first official Benedict portrait (CathNews 29/4/05)

Benedict didn't want to be Pope: Pell (Seven News/Australian Associated Press 29/4/05)
No radical change from new Pope: Pell (Sydney Morning Herald 1/5/05)
Strewth: Pulling political punchlines (The Australian 2/5/05)
Pell says Pope is 'with the poor' (The Tablet 30/4/05)

2 May 2005