Cardinal Pell tells synod bishops of their primary duty

Cardinal George Pell has said that the first task of bishops is not to be theologians but to teach, explain, and defend the Church’s faith and morals.

The Australian cardinal delivered his intervention at the synod on the family in Rome last week, and an extended form of it was posted to the Catholic Herald’s website.

In this piece, Cardinal Pell said bishops stand under the Word of God as its servants and protectors.

“ . . . [O]ur first episcopal task as teaching bishops is not to be theologians, but to teach, explain, and defend the apostolic tradition of faith and morals,” he stated.

“Young adults need to be shown that our defence of lifelong marriage is sincere and serious.”

Cardinal Pell also noted that while bishops are successors of the apostles, “we are not their equals”.

Bishops can contribute to the development of doctrine, he added.

“But we have no power to change or diminish the Word of God, much less to refashion it according to prevailing insights, or relativise the objective truths of Catholic faith and morals as passing expressions in some Hegelian flux.

“Too many have lost confidence in Jesus’ doctrines and doubt or deny that mercy is found in his hard moral teachings.

“The crucified Jesus was not afraid to confront society, and he was crucified for his pains, teaching his followers that life is a moral struggle that requires sacrifices, and his followers cannot always take the easy options.

“He did not tell the adulterous woman to continue in her good work, but to repent and sin no more.

“The Prodigal Son acknowledged his sins before he returned home.”

Cardinal Pell stated that “while we have many theologians, we have one faith and one set of official doctrine”.

“The Ten Commandments are not like an examination where only six out of ten need to be attempted,” he added.

Cardinal Pell later rejected a call made in a petition for a walkout by conservative bishops at the synod.


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