RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Dr Pell's new appointment welcomed
, October 18, 2003
The Pope's decision to appoint Sydney Catholic Archbishop, Dr George Pell, as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, reflects the importance which John Paul II gives to Dr Pell's work in the church the Australia.
The appointment was one of 31 new Cardinals in the world's largest Christian church.
Both the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer - neither of whom are Catholic - welcomed the appointment.
Mr Howard said he had "a very high personal regard for George Pell", and added, "I think he's a great intellectual, he's a person of great determination and strength. I wish him well."
The Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, said that the Government was delighted with the choice of Dr Pell.
"I certainly want to congratulate the Pope on the appointment," he said. "The Government regards him as a good choice. We are delighted there is a new Australian cardinal, and such a distinguished Australian."
The appointment reflects not only Archbishop Pell's prominence as the leading Australian churchman, but the Pope's clearly expressed wish that church leaders should forcefully articulate the Christian position, in contrast to the prevailing secular utilitarianism of society today.
Last year, Archbishop Pell took a prominent role in endorsing adult stem cell research, in developing new treatments for medical conditions which have not responded to existing medical practice, and rejected the use of human embryonic stem cells and cloning, as incompatible with the dignity due to every human person.
Earlier, he had reaffirmed the Church's teachings on the indissolubility of marriage; took court action in an effort to prevent the National Gallery of Victoria displaying an offensive piece by American sculptor, Andres Serrano, showing a crucifix in urine; and has strongly criticised Government social policies on gambling, drugs and public housing.