February 21, 2021
By John L. Allen Jr.
Rome – During the St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI years, the Vatican had a council of cardinals from around the world who allegedly oversaw its financial affairs. Members of that body routinely complained that the information they received was incomplete, that it lacked credibility and was fundamentally untrustworthy.
Two of the prelates voicing those objections most consistently were Cardinals Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and George Pell of Sydney, Australia. Thus when the new “Papa Bergoglio” made Pell his tip of the spear for Vatican financial reform in February 2014, it boiled down to one veteran reformer turning to another, despite their clear ideological differences on other fronts.
Unfortunately, the odd couple partnership between Francis and Pell fell apart almost before it could begin. The rift had nothing to do with the sexual abuse charges against Pell in his native Australia, which came later – it was about the transition from what the two men had been against, to what they were actually for.
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