Cardinal Pell speaks to youth on matters of life and death
From the Catholic Outlook, July 2011
Around 300 young people joined the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, and the Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, at a special Youth Breakfast in St Patrick’s Cathedral hall in Parramatta on 18 June.
|The young people were keen to hear Cardinal Pell speak about the moral challenges facing society today. Photography: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu|
On the Cloister lawn, Cardinal Pell and Bishop Anthony were welcomed in the Indian tradition by Freeda Sawant and Diocesan Youth Worker Annabelle Bhandoo and her husband, Placidus.
The guests were greeted by dancers from Samoan, Tongan and Filipino traditions. Band members from Youth For Christ Australia provided music.
After tucking into a breakfast of bacon and eggs, the gathering moved into the Cathedral to hear Cardinal Pell speak on the topic ‘Culture of Life vs Culture of Death’, which is the focus of his Pentecost message this year (You Shall Not Kill).
The breakfast was hosted by Catholic Youth Parramatta. Diocesan Youth Director Fr Suresh Kumar said the topic was an important one for young Catholics.
“A number of governments are planning to allow the introduction of bills on abortion and euthanasia. It creates fear in the lives of the people when governments promote death rather than life.
“We wanted to educate and empower the young people and to bring them to an awareness of how this Culture of Death is affecting society. Christ has taught us always to choose life and to promote it, whereas society today is becoming more and more a ‘use and throw’ culture.”
Fr Suresh said they had invited Cardinal Pell to speak because he had been at the forefront of the issue for a long time. “At times he is criticised for what he believes, but he has never been afraid to stand for truth.
“It is very encouraging to any young person to know that the senior clergy of the Catholic Church are on their side to promote life. Today’s young people are the leaders of tomorrow. We need to educate them on promoting life so that we create a better future for humanity.”
Bishop Anthony welcomed His Eminence who he described as a great teacher, author, scholar and newspaper columnist. “We are lucky to have him here with us today in Parramatta. He is a great leader for us and for the Church in Australia.
“He is the Cardinal who brought World Youth Day to Australia in 2008. I am pleased to report that Parramatta’s contingent of 300 pilgrims to WYD in Madrid this year is the 2nd largest group from Australia.”
In his response, Cardinal Pell said the Diocese is lucky to have Bishop Anthony, “and he is lucky to have you”.
The Cardinal said the Church had something precious to offer young people. “Young people today have more opportunities than we had when I was growing up 60 years ago. Life was different then and half the Catholic population went to Mass.
“Today the pressures on young people are greater, and so are the penalties. You need something to hang on to, to love, to revere and give you a framework.
“Jesus gave us a set of moral teachings: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gave us two great commandments: love the Lord your God and love one another.”
The Cardinal said these commandments taught us to respect human rights, to curb our selfishness, and to respect other people.
Culture of Life v Culture of Death
“When I first heard John Paul II speak of the Culture of Death I thought he was being a bit too harsh. (Evangelium Vitae, April 1995)
“But the scourge of abortion is that there are 90,000 a year in Australia. Public opinion is conflicted on this – between supporting a woman’s right to have an abortion and there being too many abortions.”
The Cardinal said there was a push to legalise euthanasia: “It’s proponents are calling it mercy killing, dying with dignity, but it’s not. There is pressure on Catholics to conform, to keep quiet about what we believe. Society desperately needs people who will speak out about family life, marriage, abortion – this violation of human rights.”
He said the Church does not want people to suffer unnecessarily and must ensure the dying are not abandoned. “Fifty-five per cent of palliative care in Australia is provided by Catholic agencies.”
The Cardinal said it would not be possible to limit ‘dying with dignity’ to voluntary euthanasia, “most killing will be involuntary”.
“The Aussie concept of a ‘fair go’ is rooted in Christianity. We need good things in society like respect for life.”
However, he said it was not enough to be pro-life, “we need to understand the issues and be able to explain them in a way that middle Australia will understand”.
Stand up for life
He called on young Catholics to join pro-life groups and political parties “to explain your view”.
“In conversation, state your case when the issue arises. You must be game enough to speak up – rise to the challenge and constructively present your case.”
Jay, one of the young people at the talk, said it was a blessing to be in the presence of two great Catholics leaders. “It was fantastic to see Cardinal Pell and Bishop Anthony warmly welcomed by four different cultures.
“What struck me was the interest of young people to attend and hear Cardinal Pell speak about the moral challenges we face today. Not only is it a steep hill to climb but, if successful, we will see the greatest reward. We must continue to stand up for our Catholic values and preserve life at all stages."View the Cardinal’s message on YouTube – search for: You Shall Not Kill Cardinal George Pell
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