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The Dispatch: More from CWR
"In actual fact, the Lefebvrists – many of them - have misread the situation for decades."

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney greets Pope Francis during his audience with cardinals March 15 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, is one of eight cardinals chosen by Pope Francis for a special papal advisory council. He was recently interviewed by Gerard O'Connell of Vatican Insider and made some rather interesting remarks about the Holy Father and various Vatican-related matters:

• On the SSPX and Vatican II:  Bishop Fellay has denounced Pope Francis as “a genuine modernist”, and charged that while the Church was “a disaster” before he was elected, he is making it “10,000 times worse”. What do you say to this?

To put it politely, I think that’s absolute rubbish!   Francis said he’s a loyal son of the Church, and his record shows that.  He’s very, very concerned for the day-to-day life of the people, and for those who are suffering, those not well off and those in difficult situations.  He’s a completely faithful exponent of Christ’s teaching and the Church’s tradition.   

So people like Fellay have completely misread Pope Francis?

Yes, it is a gigantic misreading!  In actual fact, the Lefebvrists – many of them - have misread the situation for decades.  It was to Benedict’s great credit that he tried to reconcile with them, but they didn’t respond. Now the Church today accepts the Second Vatican Council. You don’t have to accept every jot and tittle of it, but it is part of Church’s life now, there’s no way around that. ...

• About the Pope's personal style/approach: So the Pope is changing the way the synod works?

I’ve been on the synod council three or four times and we’ve never had a Pope come, sit down and talk with us for two half-days as Francis did. The bishops are very grateful for this and for having the chance to make their input and be heard.

Does this new process give you a lot of hope?

Every process has to be well managed to succeed. I anticipate this  will be, and whatever temporary problems there might be I think that in the middle and long term this will very much strengthen Catholic life....

After these days of sharing with Pope Francis, what is your overriding impression of him?

He’s a very good man!  He’s a man who practices what he preaches in terms of simplicity and poverty, and has done so for very many years.  I think he’s a very good example of the old-style Jesuit - very well educated, formidable self-control, self-discipline, and a long experience in a variety of positions , and certainly prayerful.  The Jesuits are not famous for liturgical niceties, but he says a beautiful, beautiful mass.

Read the entire interview on the Vatican Insider site.

About the Author
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Carl E. Olson

Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind", co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "Chronicles", and other publications.
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