Remembering Cardinal Pell – Catholic World Report

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

A choice for Christ can easily lead to persecution and white martyrdom, as Pell personally experienced. He was such a champion of the choice for Christ he became a lightning rod for anti-Christian sentiment and ultimately its ideal choice for a scapegoat.

Australian Cardinal George Pell pictured celebrating the White Mass for medical professionals and health care workers at the Diocese of Phoenixís Virginia G. Piper Chapel in Phoenix Nov. 20, 2021. (CNS photo/Jeff Grant)

In one of my last conversations with Cardinal Pell we talked about Margit Balogh’s biography of Cardinal Mindszenty, titled Victim of History. Balogh chose as the opening epigraph Mindszenty’s statement: “I shall keep on fighting…until the coffin closes above me”. When I mentioned this to Cardinal Pell his eyes lit up and he smiled. He clearly empathized with the great Hungarian confessor of the faith.

So often conversations with Cardinal Pell would end with his exhortations to “keep punching” or “keep up your guard” or other boxing metaphors that registered little to me but the consolation that he thought I was at least capable of fighting.

In his youth he had been selected to play A grade football but he turned down the offer and entered a seminary instead. Later in life his friends would joke that his leadership style was that of a football coach. In his “ecclesiology” faithful Catholics everywhere were members of his football team and exhorted to keep fit and to play fair. In his mind there were definite “teams”, goodies and baddies, but in conversations he would never allow ad hominem or otherwise uncharitable statements to be made against those playing on an alternative team. He once corrected a friend for referring to a new age nun as ‘feral’.

In theological terms one could say that he had a strong sense of the fact that each person is born into a cosmic battle. Each has a choice to make, for or against Christ. The fact that we live in a post-Christian age that is rapidly becoming expressly anti-Christian in many ways intensifies the dramatic thrust of human existence. A choice for Christ can easily lead to persecution and white martyrdom, as Pell personally experienced. He was such a champion of the choice for Christ he became a lightning rod for anti-Christian sentiment and ultimately its ideal choice for a scapegoat.

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Remembering Cardinal Pell – Catholic World Report

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