Cardinal George Pell and Catholic bishops…

Canberra Times

Cardinal George Pell and Catholic bishops have seriously overdrawn their moral credit

March 29, 2014

Jack Waterford
Editor-at-large, The Canberra Times

Cardinal George Pell, former archbishop of Sydney, has departed for Rome to take charge of Vatican finances. His last acts in Sydney involved rationalising the contradictions in his leadership style caused by the chasm between moral and spiritual leadership of his community, and legal and fiduciary management of its assets and finances. For 30 years his has been the authoritarian, cold, unfeeling, and arrogant face of the church corporate in Australia.

His brother bishops, and the heads of most Australian religious orders, will be glad to see him go. He has never been very popular with his brothers – something exemplified by the fact few have ever voted for him to be chairman of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Colleagues think the negative publicity he engenders has been disastrous for the reputation of the church.

But a good many of those bishops rose from the ranks by exactly the same processes as Pell, and are themselves distant from their flocks for having chosen, primarily out of ambition, to be the local representatives of Rome, rather than to Rome.

Pell is on a tough management job in Rome. In business terms he may do it well, but, if he does, it will be by behaving in much the same manner that has made him so ineffective as a pastor, but so powerful as a cleric, in Australia. He will not be preaching, or exemplifying a gospel of love, but being autocratic, driven and unaccountable to those below him.

This week he copied that strange, modern ministerial style of accepting responsibility – as the person at the top – while blaming everyone else and refusing to be actually accountable.

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