Pell did not approve of Benedict’s resignation

Vatican News

Speaking openly on his views about the three most recent popes and other matters, Australian Cardinal George Pell says he “never really approved” of Pope Benedict’s resignation from the papacy.

And, of the three most recent popes, Pell said he was closest to Benedict.

His remarks came during “The Church Up Close” a webinar hosted by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

In quick thumbnails of the three popes, Pell described St John Paul as “one of the greatest popes in history, of course”.

He praised Benedict’s “prodigious intellect”.

Francis, he said, has the “great gift of empathy and sympathy” which includes Francis’s welcoming approach to divorced and remarried couples and LGBTQ Catholics and his prioritisation of fighting climate change.

However, when asked why some conservative Catholics are hostile to Francis, Pell said he believes some “wonder just what is being taught” at the moment.

He did not elaborate on specific issues.

“Pope Francis has a great gift, like Jesus did, of reaching out to those on the peripheries and sinners and that can and has confused people.

Pell worked closely with Francis for five years, and when many called for Pell’s sacking after initially first being convicted of sexual abuse, Francis showed him respect, the prudence of judgment and mercy.

Asked if he was “still a climate change denier,” Pell said he’s “never denied climate change”.

He says he’s a “very strong” believer in it but is ambivalent about what can be done by humans to prevent it.

After listing several historical examples he said he is “well aware” the Rhine River dried up twice in the Middle Ages and that it was warmer at the time of Christ than today.

“What I am against, is inflated ideas that we can do very much at all to mitigate, to change these immense natural patterns.

“No computer program forecasting the future of climate change has been accurate.”

In his opinion, there is a “vast distance between the evidence and the policy recommendations.”

“Pagan people like something to be frightened of,” he added.

Pell also reflected on his imprisonment for sexual abuse before being cleared in 2020 by Australia’s high court and offered journalists some literary advice.

For a better understanding of the church, he suggests the journalists read Ross Douthat, George Weigel, and Rod Dreher’s book, ‘The Benedict Option’.

“The Benedict Option is not my option,” Pell said.

“I’m not sympathetic to just a small, little elite church.”

“I would like to keep as many of the semi-religious slobs like myself in the stream.”

“The Church Up Close webinar series is targeted to journalists around the world to help them better understand the dynamics of the Vatican.

Pell was archbishop of Melbourne, Australia, from 1996 to 2001 and then led the Sydney Archdiocese from 2001 until Francis invited him to oversee the Vatican’s financial reforms in 2014.


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