Controversial letter spotlights Pell prison behaviour

A letter purporting to be from disgraced Australian cardinal George Pell to his supporters has been posted on Twitter.

The full text of the letter dated 1 August was posted last Friday evening by the ‘Cardinal George Pell Supporters’ Twitter account.

Prison authorities are investigating whether Pell broke Melbourne Assessment Prison rules by posting the letter.

A Department of Justice and Community Safety spokeswoman on Saturday said prisoners are denied any access to the internet or social media, and it is a prison offence to “commission other individuals to post something on social media on behalf of a prisoner”.

There has been no comment as to whether Pell asked his supporters to pass on his letter to a wider audience.

The Twitter account has since been taken down.

Critical of Amazonian Synod

In the handwritten, signed letter, Pell criticises the agenda of the upcoming synod on the Amazon.

“We have reason to be disturbed by the Instrumentum Laboris of the Amazonian Synod,” writes Pell.

He calls the Instrumentum a “low-quality document”.

The Instrumentum, which has been the source of considerable discussion and commentary, includes discussion, for example, on the subject of ordaining viri probati, (married men, to answer a shortage of priestly vocations).

It also calls for “a Church with an indigenous face,” and recommends the synod identify “an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian church”.

Cardinal Müller has written “an excellent critique” of the Instrumentum, Pell writes.

Noting he doesn’t know the Amazon region, Pell says in his letter: “One point is fundamental, the Apostolic Tradition, the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles, taken from the New Testament and taught by Popes and Councils, by the Magisterium, is the only criterion doctrinally for all teaching on doctrine and practice.”

“Amazon or no Amazon, in every land, the Church cannot allow any confusion, much less any contrary teaching, to damage the Apostolic Tradition,” he said.

Life in prison

Pell says prison life is helping him develop his faith and compares his suffering to that of Jesus.

“My faith in our God, like yours, is a source of strength,” his letter says.

“The knowledge that my small suffering can be used for good purposes through being joined to Jesus’ suffering gives me purpose and direction.

“Challenges and problems in Church life should be confronted in a similar spirit of faith.”

Pell says he’s received between 1500 and 2000 letters since his imprisonment, and that messages from his supporters have brought him “immense consolation, humanly and spiritually” while he awaits a decision on his appeal.


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