Australian Cardinal Challenges World Youth Day Pilgrims to ‘Get Off the Fence’

Thu Jul 17, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Jenna Murphy

SYDNEY, Australia, July 17, 2008 ( -  On Tuesday, His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, welcomed pilgrims to the "Great South Land of the Holy Spirit" as he delivered an ice-breaking homily at the Opening Mass of the 24th World Youth Day celebration.

Cardinal Pell challenged those gathered to embrace the fullness of their humanity by renouncing the spirit of neutrality which has gained such a firm grip on many members of society, many Catholics included.

"Our task is to be open to the power of the Spirit, to allow the God of surprises to act through us. Human motivation is complex and mysterious, because sometimes very strong Catholics, and other strong Christians, can be prayerful and regularly good, but also very determined not to take even one further step," said Cardinal Pell.

"Don’t spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfillment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges."

The Cardinal compared those who choose not to act in the face of injustice to the "dry bones" we see in Ezekiel, empty of all life and of all that bears fruit. In choosing to act in the face of the bleakness of injustice, he said, we imitate our Divine Shepherd in seeking out the one lost sheep and risking much out of love for this forgotten and lost one.

"Each person must declare himself in the age-old struggle between good and evil, between what Paul calls the flesh and the Spirit. It is not good enough to be only a passenger, to try to live in ‘no-man’s land’ between the warring parties. Life forces us to choose, eventually destroys any possibility of neutrality".

To see the full text from Cardinal Pell’s homily:

Keep this news available to you and millions more

Your gift will spread truth, defeat lies, and save lives

Share this article