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George Pell urges English-speaking bishops to be bolder

Christopher Lamb - The Tablet - Sat, Nov 3rd 2012

A SENIOR cardinal has said that bishops in the English-speaking world have been too accommodating in their proclamation of church teaching.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, who last month was appointed to the Vatican body that oversees the appointment of bishops, said: “Sometimes we have to give the Church’s moral teaching in a political situation where we know it is almost impossible that it is going to be accepted … Even in those situations, we are still obliged prudently and sensibly to present the truth.”

Speaking at a press briefing during the Synod on the New Evangelisation in Rome last week, he said bishops could have been bolder. “We could have been a little bit more vigorous – I am speaking right across the English-speaking world rather than any one place, in any one country.” He added:“I would be tempted to say that we have been a little bit too accommodating. And I am not sure that it has worked to our benefit.” 

He explained that those who offered a “cutprice” Christianity did not produce growth and that the experience of other Christian communities had shown “the faster they have accommodated themselves to the world, the faster they have gone out of business”. 

Cardinal Pell added that if a person decides to leave the Church because they no longer believe in the divinity of Christ, or “fundamentally object” to some areas of the Church’s moral teaching, then “as a matter of integrity it’s not inappropriate that they do leave”. 

He also said that some aspects of church teaching were negotiable and others were

non-negotiable; priestly celibacy was in the former category, and women priests and church teaching on marriage in the latter. However, the cardinal stressed he was in favour of keeping the discipline of celibacy.

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