Late Cardinal Pell unmasked as secret Vatican blogger on ‘catastrophic’ Pope Francis
Australian cardinal George Pell described Pope Francis’s papacy as “a disaster” in a secret blog as he grew increasingly disillusioned with the pontiff in the years before his death.
In some of the strongest language used by a Vatican critic of Pope Francis, Cardinal Pell said his decade-long papacy had become a “catastrophe”.
Cardinal Pell died on Tuesday at the age of 81 after complications from hip surgery.
At one time the third most senior figure in the Vatican, he was unmasked as the anonymous author “Demos” who published his concerns and recommendations for whoever succeeds Pope Francis as the next pontiff on a Vatican blog called Settimo Cielo.
He condemned what he called Pope Francis’s “weakened” teaching of Christian doctrine and his openness on issues including homosexuality, women clergy, celibacy for priests and the granting of communion to remarried divorcees.
Pope Francis was “intellectually” inferior to his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he claimed.
The cardinal also alleged that “phone tapping is regularly practised” in the Vatican.
The Australian prelate said that inefficiency and corruption over the last three decades had cost the Vatican at least €100 million, possibly €200 million.
“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 under the pseudonym.
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Pell as his finance minister and tasked him with rooting out corruption and inefficiency within the Holy See.
But that job was interrupted when the cardinal had to return to Australia to face accusations that he had sexually abused two altar boys while he was serving as archbishop of Melbourne. He was convicted in 2018 and spent 13 months in jail but was acquitted on appeal in 2020.
After his release he became increasingly critical of Pope Francis’s attempts at reform.
In a further attack on Pope Francis, Cardinal Pell wrote an article in the days before he died in which he described the pontiff’s decision to canvas Catholics worldwide on grassroots issues like the role of women in the church as a “toxic nightmare”.
Cardinal Pell wrote the article for The Spectator, which published it on Wednesday, a day after he died in Rome.
The revelation that a formerly close ally of Pope Francis had become one of his harshest critics comes at the end of a turbulent couple of weeks for the Vatican, in which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died, his personal secretary published a book that was critical of Francis, and the Holy See opened an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of the teenage daughter of a Vatican employee 40 years ago.
Despite the harsh criticism from beyond the grave, Pope Francis will deliver a final salute to Cardinal Pell during a funeral mass at the Vatican on Saturday.
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