Catholic News Agency
September 27, 2020
By Courtney Mares
Cardinal George Pell is set to return to Rome on Tuesday, his first time back in the Vatican since 2017, when he took a leave of absence from his role as prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy to travel to Australia.
The cardinal is set to fly on Sept. 29, sources close to Pell confirmed to CNA on Sunday, following an initial report by Australian journalist Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun newspaper.
Pell has been living in his former Archdiocese of Sydney since his acquittal by Australia’s High Court in April on charges of sexual abuse.
Sometimes a perfect political metaphor just lands in your lap. I was out riding my bike the other day in a residential neighborhood here in central Connecticut, on an east-west road with which other, smaller north-south roads intersected. As I approached an intersection—I didn’t have a stop sign—a silver pickup truck pulled up to the stop sign on the street from the north. With barely a pause, he breezed across, cutting me off. “Hey!” I shouted, and waggled an index finger at him.
He braked to a hard stop. A white guy, stocky, maybe fifty. “You got a problem?” he shouted.
“Yeah,” I said. “You almost hit me.”
“I got there before you,” he said.
“But you had a stop sign, and I didn’t.” I pointed back to the intersection. “I had the right of way.”
“Yeah?” He smirked. “Well, fuck you and your right of way!” And away he roared.
Has the time come to set aside
the ruling in Ordinatio sacerdotalis, issued by Pope John Paul II in
1994, thereby opening up a debate about the ordination of women priests
that he intended expressly to forbid?
John Paul declared: “The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women,” and went on to order that “this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful”. It is not disloyalty to that ruling to ask: what did it mean exactly? The Church expresses its authority over ordination, and all the other six Sacraments, through its canon law. For instance, Canon 1031 states: “The presbyterate is not to be conferred except on those who have completed the twenty-fifth year of age and possess sufficient maturity …” That could obviously be amended to change the qualifying age, say, to 27 or 24. Canon 1024 asserts: “A baptised male alone receives sacred ordination validly.” John Paul II appeared to be saying that it was impossible for the Church ever to amend that canon, for instance by inserting “and women” in place of “alone”. But what if a subsequent pope did so, at the stroke of a pen? Can one pope bind another in this way? For ever?
These are reasonable questions. It is safe to say that Pope John Paul II was appealing to something even more fundamental than canon law, a higher law. The reason he gave, about Jesus calling only men as his Apostles, is a reference to the powers that were bestowed on the Church at its beginning. But it is standard Catholic doctrine that those powers also gave the Church authority to evolve and adapt. The very notion of ordination is a later development, as is its separation into three orders, of deacon, priest and bishop.
As Election Day quickly approaches, clergy are being reminded of their pastoral role to form consciences and to address the social issues of our day from a moral perspective rather than a political one.
Since all political issues are also moral ones, the possibilities are vast and the landscape is extremely broad for preaching and teaching by the clergy. Yet on both sides of the political spectrum, we have some members of the clergy who insist on overstepping boundaries. It appears some members of the clergy just really cannot help themselves, wanting to play politician.
Such a role reversal is as sad as politicians who want to play clergy. But members of the clergy have not been elected, and politicians have not been ordained. These are different public offices for complementary, but very different functions.