Great honour for a great man of the Church and for the Church in Australia

26/02/2014

Statement by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP: Cardinal Pell Appointment
Arrival of Pope Benedict XVI, World Youth Day Sydney 2008.

Statement by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta

26 February 2014

I would like to congratulate Cardinal George Pell on his appointment as Prefect for the Economy of the Holy See. This is a great honour for a great man of the Church and for the Church in Australia.

We are proud of the contributions made over the years by Cardinal Knox, Cardinal Cassidy and other Australians to the Roman Curia and thus to the Church worldwide. Now Cardinal Pell will hold the most senior position in the Church ever held by an Australian and he will devote his very considerable gifts to this new service.

I am proud to say that I have known "the Cardinal" since I was a young friar (seminarian) in Melbourne more than 25 years ago. I have always found him a man of deep faith and courage, as well as human compassion. He is, of course, ‘larger than life’ not just physically but in terms of his great gifts and big ideas. He has offered the Church in Australia inspiring leadership for the past generation and will be greatly missed as he embraces his new mission in Rome.

Already in his years as Archbishop of Melbourne he demonstrated his organisational abilities through establishing many projects in youth ministry, adult education, seminary formation, drug rehabilitation, professional standards (dealing with child abuse) and other areas. In Melbourne he founded the Australian session of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family which I was fortunate first to head up. It continues to provide outstanding opportunities for study in the theology and pastoral care of families and in bioethics.

Statement by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP: Cardinal Pell Appointment
Catholic Youth Parramatta Breakfast in St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, June 2011. Photography: Alphonsus Fok

Since coming to Sydney the Cardinal's achievements have included establishing the two Sydney campuses of The University of Notre Dame Australia (including the first Catholic medical and law schools), the Benedict XVI Retreat Centre in Grose Vale and Domus Australia in Rome.

He has reformed Archdiocesan finances and dramatically expanded CatholicCare, the Church's welfare services. He has extensively refurbished St Mary's Cathedral and better endowed its renowned choir. He has tirelessly promoted Catholic education. And, of course, he brought Pope Benedict XVI and the youth of the world to Sydney to join the youth and parishioners of our country for World Youth Day in 2008. He is quite an organiser!

Having worked with him on some of these projects, I know he is a man with great ideas who also knows how to get them to happen. This convinces me that he will be a great help to the Holy Father and the whole Church in his new role.

Cardinal Pell has always led ‘from the front’ in our country and never shied away from the hard questions even when this was unpopular. He will demonstrate the same doggedness in his new role. And, as always, he will seek the best lay professional advice and collaboration in the process.

Statement by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP: Cardinal Pell Appointment
Catholic Youth Parramatta Breakfast in St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, June 2011. Photography: Alphonsus Fok

It was my particular privilege to work with Cardinal Pell on Sydney's World Youth Day. He set up the necessary organisation, engaged the right people, negotiated with a range of stakeholders and set us all a cracking pace. In all this he never lost sight of the spiritual goals of that great festival of youthful faith.

The Cardinal's particular affinity with young people is well known and I have delighted over the years in his ability to talk person-to-person with them about the things that really matter, while also having fun – even on a camel or a waterslide.

He is a man of great intellect and education, of broad and constant reading, of deep and regular prayer, and of many languages. We will miss his leadership in Sydney and, indeed, Australia. But our loss is the international Church's great gain.

The prayers of Australian Catholics and many others go with him and with our beloved Pope Francis who has so wisely chosen this Australian to be one of his closest collaborators.

 

+Anthony Fisher OP


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