The plainspoken Australian Cardinal George Pell (former Archbishop of Sydney) is in charge of the dicastery that manages the Vatican economy.
He made news some time ago by saying that the ad orientem position should be mandatory for the celebration of the Canon of the Mass i.e. at Mass the priest should be facing in the same direction as the congregation when he is at the altar.
"There's nothing like a consensus in favour of that at the moment," he said, but, "I think I would be in favour of it because it makes it patently clear that the priest is not the centre of the show, that this an act of worship of the one true God, and the people are joining with the priest for that."
Here is a summary of his remarks re. the upcoming Synod on the Family:
"Church teaching", he said, can’t be “abdicated, (because) it’s based on the teachings of Christ.” “Christ is very clear about divorce, very clear about adultery; and not quite as important, but still very important, St. Paul is explicit about the conditions that are required for proper reception of communion.”
Cardinal Pell said he expects “the synod will massively endorse the tradition” of the Church’s teachings on these issues. The Church seeks to help people and to be compassionate.
The cardinal that this must be done in the light of clear teaching which “will recognize that the Christian tradition of St. John Paul the Great, Benedict, the Council of Trent, is well established … and I don’t anticipate any deviation of that.”
He went on to point out that If there are no consequences for doing something wrong, then “we send the wrong message, and that’s not merciful in the long run.”
Using the image of a ship stranded at sea, he “some people have been saying the role of the Church is to help those people who are in the life boats.” Reaching them is important, but a bigger concern for the Church now “is to guide the big ships, the liners, so that they’re not shipwrecked, so that they don’t need to get into the lifeboats.”
“We defend through the law that which we value; and to deny that will increase the decline and the slide in the wrong direction.” The cardinal focused on the role of parents as the primary educators of their children.
He addressed the fact that fewer people are getting married and the various strains that mitigate against lifelong commitment. Changes in moral thinking have been the cause of many of the sociological changes the world has seen, the cardinal said.
He pointed to what Benedict VXI described as the “dictatorship of relativism” which lies at the root of the decline in morality. When tolerance is based on the belief that there is no objective truth and that any “unprovable moral conviction” is just as valid as all the rest, “we deprive ourselves not only of the legitimation of human rights, we deprive ourselves also of the foundations of much of our sexual legislation.”
When parents become moral relativists, they lose the authority and foundation to teach moral life by example and to nurture religious convictions into their children, the cardinal explained. “
No parent should forget to show and teach their children that the way to growth, both personal and community, is through fidelity to the core teachings of Christ and the Church,” he said. He went on to say that those who downplay the demands of the faith and family, the virtues which Jesus himself was nurtured in as a child are only “increasing and hastening the exodus.”