For whom the Pell tolls: Francis picks Aussie to fix finances

Cardinal Pell  with the Pope

Cardinal George Pell is about to become one of the highest ranking Catholics in the world. He will soon depart for Rome to take up a position as head of the Vatican's new Secretariat for the Economy, supported by a team of qualified lay people. Full coverage and analysis within.

- By Tess Livingston, The Australian.

Following his appointment as Prefect for the Economy for the Holy See and the Vatican signed, Cardinal George Pell and a couple of close friends sat down at a restaurant near Domus Australia to celebrate with cotoletta milanese and a good drop of vino.

The appointment was a rare achievement.

Pell, who is now on the same level as Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, now ranks second in the Vatican behind Pope Francis.

No Australian churchman has risen to such authority before. Retired Cardinal Edward Cassidy, 89, served as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the 1980s and 90s.

And James Knox, a former archbishop of Melbourne, headed the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in the 70s and 80s.

Pell has loved Rome since he first arrived there in September 1963 to complete his training for the priesthood at the Pontifical Urban University.

Almost 50 years after his ordination in St Peter's Basilica in 1966, and 18 years at the helm of Australia's two largest archdioceses, Pell had no trouble on Monday nominating his proudest achievements: 'The young priests and the new RE (religious education) program' he told The Australian, without a moment's hesitation.

The 'young priests' are the generation of 20-something to 40-something priests throughout Sydney, Melbourne and Rome who were drawn to the seminaries Pell reformed after the postmodern upheavals of the 60s and 70s. Prayer, doctrinal orthodoxy and academic rigour re-emerged.

To the chagrin of modernists, a new wave of candidates, many with professional careers and several university degrees behind them, arrived and stayed the course.

In 2001, when Pell was appointed to Sydney, the city had just 10 seminarians at one seminary. He leaves the archdiocese with 48 seminarians at the Good Shepherd Seminary at Homebush and 23 at the Redemptoris Mater missionary seminary at Chester Hill.

Pell has also devoted much of his priestly life to tertiary education, overseeing the establishment of Notre Dame University in Sydney, and the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne.

Efficient administration have been a prominent part of Pell's success.

News Corp's executive chairman Rupert Murdoch tweeted yesterday that Australia would miss Pell 'but world will benefit.'

Pell is 'no shrinking violet,' Jesuit Thomas Reese wrote in the influential National Catholic Reporter overnight: 'He will be a formidable opponent to anyone who tries to oppose him.'

He'll need to be. The Cardinal is too wily a politician and too loyal a team player to talk publicly about the state of the Vatican's finances and administration, admitting only there is a need to improve accountability and transparency. 

Read full article: Our Man in the Vatican (The Australian)

FULL COVERAGE:

Motu Proprio on Financial Management of the Holy See (Zenit/EWTN)

Man of action in a changing Church (The Catholic Weekly)

Pope names financial supervisor (The Times)

Pope Moves to Reshape Management of Vatican (The New York Times)

Cardinal Pell to Head New Vatican Office for Economic Oversight (National Catholic Register)

Pell named head of Vatican's new Council for the Economy (The Tablet)

Cardinal Pell honoured by appointment (The Archdiocese of Sydney)

Archbishop Porteous delighted by Cardinal Pell appointment (Archdiocese of Hobart)

University of Notre Dame thanks committed Cardinal (The Record)

George Pell's departure (The Age)

WATCH:

Australia's most senior Catholic heads to Rome a polarising figure (ABC 7.30)

LISTEN:

Australian cardinal to head new Vatican Secretariat for Economy (Vatican Radio)

George Pell appointed to clean up Vatican's scandal plagued finances (ABC Radio's AM program)

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