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Pell wrote secret memo calling Francis' papacy a 'catastrophe', says journalist

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  • The late conservative cardinal wrote a poignant anonymous document
  • Pope Francis criticized for being ‘politically correct’
  • Italian journalist confirms Pell’s authorship

VATICAN CITY, Jan 12 (Reuters) – The late conservative Australian Cardinal George Pell was the author of an anonymous memo condemning Pope Francis’ papacy as a “catastrophe” where political correctness held sway while global wrongs were ignored, the Vatican Council said. journalist who published it.

Released last year under the pseudonym “Demos” – Greek for population – the document accuses the pope of silence on moral issues, including the German Catholic Church’s openness to the LGBTQ community, women priests and Communion for the divorced.

“Commentators from all schools, albeit for different reasons … agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe,” the memo begins.

“Decisions and policies are often ‘politically correct’, but there have been serious failures to support human rights in Venezuela, Hong Kong, mainland China and now the Russian invasion,” he adds.

“These questions must be revisited by the next Pope. The Vatican’s political prestige is now at an all-time low.”

Italian journalist Sandro Magister, himself a conservative Catholic with a long history of leaking authentic Vatican documents, revealed Pell’s authorship on his religious affairs blog “Settimo Cielo”.

“He wanted me to publish it,” Magister told Reuters on Thursday.

Pell, 81, who spent more than a year in prison before being acquitted of sexual abuse charges in his native Australia, died late on Tuesday at a Rome hospital of heart failure.

Father Joseph Hamilton, Pell’s personal secretary, declined to comment on the Magister’s report, saying in a text message that he was “more concerned about my pain”.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no comment.

Pell seemed to like the more liberal-minded Francis personally, but not how he ran the church. Francis supported Pell in particular during the abuse saga and on the day of his acquittal offered a mass for all those suffering unjust sentences.


Magister said that Pell was a frequent visitor to his home, and during one visit, the late cardinal showed him the English text he wanted to distribute among the cardinals.

The general treatment of many issues discussed in the memo is similar to how Pell has spoken about them in public, including in an interview with Reuters in 2020. But the document, written with an eye toward the election of the next pope, becomes more personal. and forceful, including naming specific people.

The author asserts that “Christ is being moved from the center” under Francis’ papacy, adding that “St John Paul II’s Christocentric legacy in faith and morals is under systematic attack.”

He accuses a northern European cardinal of being “explicitly heretical” on the church’s teachings on sexuality and laments the “active persecution” of traditionalist Catholics.

“The political influence of Pope Francis and the Vatican is negligible. Intellectually, papal writings demonstrate a decline from the standard of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict,” the author writes.

The memo shows particular familiarity with the financial situation of the Vatican, which occupies about 25% of the document. Pell was the Vatican’s finance minister from 2014 to 2017.

In a section under the heading “The Next Conclave,” the author writes that the College of Cardinals “was weakened by eccentric appointments,” an apparent reference to Francis appointing cardinals from distant places with relatively few Catholics, such as Mongolia.

“The new pope’s first tasks will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore due respect for the law, and ensure that the first criterion for appointing bishops is acceptance of apostolic tradition,” the memo said. . read.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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