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Cardinal George PellJohn-Henry Westen /

“The story of the Popes is stranger than fiction, but the contribution of the many good Popes far outweighs the sins and mistakes of the minority,” Cardinal George Pell wrote in a homily delivered on his behalf in Rome’s parish dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass.  “Today we have one of the more unusual popes in history, enjoying almost unprecedented popularity.”

The homily was delivered at Ss. Trinità Church to participants in the 3rd annual Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage in Rome by the Cardinal’s secretary Fr. Mark Withoos, as the cardinal was prevented from celebrating the Mass because of bronchitis.

Cardinal Pell's full homily is available here [PDF].

Pell, one of the pope’s most senior cardinals and the one to whom the pope entrusted the reform of the Vatican’s finances, was an outspoken voice of orthodoxy during the Synod as a so-called ‘radical’ minority of Synod fathers attempted to push through reforms that would open the door to acceptance of homosexuality, cohabitation, and other changes to Catholic moral teaching.

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In the homily, focused mainly on the importance of the papacy, Cardinal Pell wrote that it is “one of the most amazing institutions in history,” and emphasized the Church was built by Christ on “Peter himself, despite his faults and failings.”

“Pope Francis is the 266th Pope and history has seen 37 false or anti-Popes,” he said, adding that Francis “is doing a marvelous job backing the financial reforms.”

Turning to the fallout of the Synod, Pell wrote: “We all have an important task during the next twelve months i.e. to explain and build a consensus out of the present divisions.”

“We will be counter productive if we have anger or hate in our hearts, if we lapse into sterile polemics against a surprisingly small number of catholic opponents.”

He reassured his hearers that doctrine does not change. “Doctrine does develop – we understand truth more deeply – but there are no doctrinal back-flips in Catholic history.”

Cardinal Pell's full homily is available here [PDF].