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George Pell said Pope Francis was a ‘disaster’ and ‘catastrophe’

Cardinal George Pell was increasingly disillusioned with the direction of the church under Pope Francis and branded his papacy a “disaster” and “catastrophe”, it has been revealed.

Pope Francis is set to deliver a final send-off for Cardinal Pell during a funeral Mass on Saturday in St Peter’s Basilica.

As is custom for cardinal funerals, Pope Francis will deliver a final commendation and salute.

However two sets of writings by the cardinal have shed light on what he really thought of the pontiff.

A staunch conservative, Pell grew increasingly disillusioned with the direction of Pope Francis’s papacy, including its emphasis on inclusion and canvassing of the laity about the future of the church.

He penned a remarkable memorandum outlining his concerns, and recommendations for the next pope in a future conclave, that began circulating last year and was published under a pseudonym, “Demos,” on Vatican blog Settimo Cielo.

The blogger Sandro Magister has revealed Cardinal Pell indeed was the author of the memo, which is an extraordinary indictment of the current pontificate by a one-time close collaborator of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Pell remained a figurehead for conservatives during his incarceration and after his exoneration.

The memo is divided into two parts — The Vatican Today and The Next Conclave — and lists a series of points covering everything from Pope Francis’s “weakened” preaching of the Gospel to the precariousness of the Holy See’s finances and the “lack of respect for the law” in the city-state, including in the current financial corruption trial under way that Cardinal Pell himself had championed.

“Commentators of every school, if for different reasons … agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe,” Cardinal Pell wrote.

The conservative UK magazine The Spectator published what it said was a signed article Cardinal Pell wrote in the days before he died.

In the article, Cardinal Pell described as a “toxic nightmare” the Pope’s two-year canvassing of the Catholic laity about issues such as church teaching on sexuality and the role of women.

Referring to the Vatican’s summary of the canvassing effort, Pell complained of a “deepening confusion, the attack on traditional morals and the insertion into the dialogue of neo-Marxist jargon about exclusion, alienation, identity, marginalisation, the voiceless, LGBTQ as well as the displacement of Christian notions of forgiveness, sin, sacrifice, healing, redemption”.

Cardinal Pell’s anonymous memo, however, is even harsher and takes particular aim at Pope Francis himself.

While other conservatives have criticised Pope Francis’ crackdown on traditionalists and mercy-over-morals priorities, Pell went further and devoted an entire section to the pontiff’s involvement in a big financial fraud investigation that has resulted in the prosecution of 10 people, including Cardinal Pell’s onetime nemesis, Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

Cardinal Pell had initially cheered the indictment, which stemmed from the Vatican’s 350 million euro ($545 million) investment in a London real estate deal, given it vindicated his years-long effort to uncover financial mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.

But over the course of the trial, questions have been raised about the rights of the defence in a legal system where the Pope has absolute power.

Cardinal Pell also came to the defence of Becciu, whom Pope Francis removed in September 2020 before he was even under investigation.
“He did not receive due process. Everyone has a right to due process,” Cardinal Pell wrote.

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