Pell: Church’s mission ‘no justification’ for financial inefficiency or corruption

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 30, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- Cardinal George Pell has said that the Church’s spiritual mission is no excuse for bad management, and that financial corruption can pose a greater risk to clergy than sexual misconduct.

“Undoubtedly, money is one of God’s gifts, it is also a source of temptation,” Pell said in a video message delivered Tuesday evening to the Global Institute of Church Management at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

“To say that the Church is not a business provides no justification for us to be inefficient much less for us to be corrupt.”

Pell, the founding patron of the institute, was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 to serve as the first head of the Prefecture for the Economy in the Vatican, charged with overseeing and reforming Vatican finances.

“I remember being startled when I learned, soon after I came to Rome [in 2014], that Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta, had said that for the clergy there are two great challenges: one touches on sexuality and another touched on money,” Pell recalled. “And she thought that the danger from money was greater and stronger than that from errant sexuality.”

“Our Lord himself has a lot to say about riches, he was very clear on the subject. Once again I remember being disconcerted, it may have been a decade or so ago, when I read that our Lord condemned the love of riches more than he condemned hypocrisy.”

The cardinal said “it is salutary to remember that the only group to whom Our Lord took the whip were the money changers, the traders in the temple.”

“Money is a tainted thing. I thoroughly enjoyed my work with money – it is quite fascinating – but it needs to be controlled and managed.”

“The Church is not a business,” Pell said, “the Church is supernatural […] but we believe in the incarnation, that God sent his only son to come and live with us. So we bring the presence of Christ and of God into our communities and we have to use money and methodology to do this.”

“I am not suggesting for a minute that our priorities should be inverted,” Pell said.

“I remember speaking at a big convention for youth… and I said it was harder to convert a person to Christ than to reform Vatican finances,” Pell recalled, noting that “all the secular press claimed I said the opposite.”

The cardinal praised the work of the institute and said that it is essential for those charged with management roles in the Church to foster discipline and virtue.

“It’s one this to have a spiritual vision, it’s another thing to have a plan or a project; of course, to implement those things, you need managerial skill – human capacity which is trained and shaped for good and godly purposes.”

Pell’s term at the Prefecture for the Economy officially ended in 2019, but he took a leave of absence from the role in 2017 so that he could travel back to his native Australian to face charges of sexual abuse. After a protracted legal battle, which saw Pell spend more than a year in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, the cardinal was acquitted of all charges by the Australian High Court in April of this year.

Pell offered examples from his time spent in prison as ways in which physical self-discipline can compliment spiritual discipline.

“In jail,” Pell said, “I had plenty of time on my hands to pray every day, and that I did. I did it because it was my duty, it was congruent, and personally helpful. But alongside that, I had a set of practical steps to take.”

“My life was very regular – I was woken every morning at 7.15 and I didn’t go back to bed, I stayed up,” Pell said. “I made certain that I took exercise every day, I looked after my diet; I was probably healthier when I came out of jail than when I went in.”

“All these ordered, systematic facts helped me,” said Pell.

“Similarly, when we come to look at Church enterprises, the way we serve the people, it isn’t sufficient to be regularly praying, persons of strong fervor – we have to be able to put our vision into action.”

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  1. Cardinal Pell should pastor the suffering flock in Australia than worrying about finances/Vatican career. Cardinal Pell should leave the finances to be managed by more qualified Cardinals/professionals as we don’t want the Roman Catholic Church being turned into a business ready for the exercise of Power like in Australian Catholic Church with the ‘lukewarm clergy’ and third-world country (colonised mind) model in all key positions so when the True Catholic teachings need to be defended, the good ones standing up for the True teachings have been punished and isolated to conform to falsehood. We need Vatican independence on finances with more CLERGY like Italian/Portuguese/American in roles as opposed to more laypeople who are easily duped without questioning. So when educated black Catholics stand up for their rights and need help, they wont get punished and isolated as they must be white to get help from the Australian Catholic Church. Good to tell stories and showing one side to Rome is not truth. Rome is unaware of what is happening in Australia. We want a Vatican delegation to Australia.

  2. Pell wasnt found innocent of the charges. He was found guilty. That’s why he was in prison. He also knew that Ridsdale was a pedophile and refused to do anything about it. He is a disgrace to the Catholic Church and should confess his sins and be penitent.

      • Oh yeah. He was found guilty by 12 jurors (you know, us) and sent to jail. Along came some senior judges (them) and overturned the conviction. Situation normal…

        • Have you troubled yourself to read Justice Weinberg’s dissent, and then the unanimous decision of the High Court?

          The jurors were so blinded by bigotry and hatred that they came up with an utterly unreasonable verdict, which is why it was quashed.

          You may identify as “us” with the unreasonable, hate-filled bigots; I prefer to be on the side of the senior judges who upheld justice.

    • Very odd way of looking at Pell’s acquittal. The highest court in Australia decided 7 nil that the charges should be dismissed meaning he is entitled to be presumed innocent as you or I would be. Actually blind Freddy could see, as the High Court could, that if Pell was out the front of the cathedral and, when he went back to the sacristy, he was never alone, then there was zero chance of the offences taking place. The complainant’s story is very similar to that of a “victim”‘s story in Rolling Stone 2011. It is surprising to read the sewer of hate for Pell on such social media as Twitter – defamatory and obscene, particularly after the “findings ” of the royal commission on what Pell was alleged to know. that said, and point taken that finances need to be kosher, the title of his talk and the subject matter are not congruent with the Gospels.

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