We were privileged last night to attend the performance of Handel's
 " MESSIAH" Oratorio in Holy Name church Wahroonga. The Choir of Saint Mary's Cathedral sang, complemented by a superb orchestra.The acoustics of the fine church are excellent and there could not have been a better venue. The Blessed Sacrament had of course been removed to a suitable place of Repose in the Presbytery.

His Eminence Cardinal George Pell was warmly welcomed and he saw his Cathedral Choir give a truly sublime performance of the sacred work. The significance of the many Prophetic texts in the work was only heightened by the inspiring crucifix ( an excellent piece of modern art) suspended over the Sanctuary and its great shadow cast left and right, inside the Apse, by the lighting.

When the time came for all to stand in honour of our Saviour at the Alleluia Chorus it was the crowning moment of a profound and deeply moving religious experience.

We learned that Cardinal Pell himself was to have a further moving experience - of a physical type : the next day, Sunday 14th April, he is on his way to Rome.

On returning from the performance, a quick glance at the Internet and Email revealed the reason for His Eminence's journey .

The Holy Father has included  Cardinal Pell in a small, carefully chosen committee of Cardinals to advise him on the reform of the Church's central administration - effectively the Curia. Here is the text of the official Vatican Information Service bulletin :

"“The Holy Father Francis, taking up a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregations preceding the Conclave, has established a group of cardinals to advise him in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, 'Pastor Bonus'.
The group consists of:
Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State;
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile;
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India;
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany;
Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo;
Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M., archbishop of Boston, USA;
Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia;
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; and
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary.
The group's first meeting has been scheduled for 1-3 October 2013. His Holiness is, however, currently in contact with the aforementioned cardinals.”

_There have been suggestions made in some quarters that Cardinal Bertello may be favoured by the Holy Father to become Secretary of State in any re-structure. Cardinal Marx whom Pope Benedict had appointed Archbishop of his old see of Munich and Freising, is perhaps the most acceptable member of the difficult, but influential German Episcopate. Cardinal O'Malley is of course a Franciscan ( a fact the Media made much of in the run-up to the Conclave always printing pictures of him wearing the brown Franciscan habit - never  showing the pictures available of him wearing his Cardinal's robes at that time). His popularity in the American media will be a plus for the Committee ,and, more importantly, he had the horrific experience of inheriting the abuse scandal aftermath in Boston. Cardinal Maradiaga S.D.B. as Coordinator has the double advantage of being also a representative of the Latin-American church and as a Salesian ( like the present Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone) familiar with many of the people likely to be affected by change.

Cardinal Pell, is of course very widely known in Rome and the wider Church not only in his a Archiepiscopal role, but as a member of several Congregations over a number of years and as Chairman of the Vox Clara Committee which brought the corrected translation of the Liturgy in English to a successful implementation.In addition he had a reportedly significant role in the 2005 Conclave result. And he has been very forthright , though measured in his public comments about the need for Curial reform. 

During the last week the Holy Father paid a visit to the Secretariat of State and met the assembled 300 plus staff. The Secretariat of State has for several decades operated as an effective " Prime Minister's" Department in the Curia with every other Dicastery responding to it. This system was adopted in the time of Blessed Pope John Paul II greatly expanding the role of what had simply been the Dicastery of the Diplomatic Service. For a long time Cardinal Angelo Sodano had been its Prefect until replaced by Cardinal Bertone under Pope Benedict. Some would suggest that the Sodano influence had perhaps unhelpfully, remained at work.

To quote former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan ( who was speaking of Africa) it would seem that the " winds of change" are about to blow in Rome . And this time it will not be the gentle and gentlemanly Bavarian Joseph Ratzinger working the bellows!


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