Cardinal Pell: Catholic means universal, not continental [CNA] City, Oct 19, 2015 / 04:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a wide-ranging interview, Australia’s leading prelate affirmed his alliance with Pope Francis, and also stressed that, in a universal church, doctrine does not change from one country to the next.

“You cannot have two people in the same situation with the same dispositions; one goes to Communion and it (is) a sacrilege and in the country next-door it is a cause of grace,” said Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican secretariat for the economy, in an exclusive interview with CNA.

“‘Catholic’ means ‘universal,’ not ‘continental’,” he said.

Although the former archbishop of Sydney did not mention the German bishops’ conference by name in Saturday’s interview, some members of that conference have stated they would pursue their own pastoral approaches regarding marriage and the family regardless of what the Synod decides.

Speaking on his perceptions of the Synod on the Family, which has just entered its third and final week, the cardinal also put to rest claims that he is at odds with Pope Francis.

The Pope is “a very good listener,” he said, adding that the two are on the same page when it comes to the protection of doctrine at the Synod.

“One of my concerns is for doctrine, and the Pope has said the doctrine will not be touched. I am not a rebel or an opponent of the Pope,” Cardinal Pell said.

The Australian prelate gave a good-humored response to the media buzz surrounding the letter to Pope Francis, a version of which was leaked Oct. 12, in which 13 cardinals allegedly expressed their concerns over the new Synod procedures.

“I think one of the reasons was that there was not much excitement in the first week, and the press wanted some excitement,” he said, suggesting that the controversy surrounding the letter had been overblown.

He explained that it is not unusual for a cardinal to write letters to the Pope, adding that he did not believe any of the 13 signatories were responsible for releasing the letter to the press.

This year’s Synod on the Family, which runs from Oct. 4-25, is the second and larger of two such gatherings to take place in the course of a year. Like its 2014 precursor, the focus of the 2015 Synod of Bishops will be the family, this time with the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”

The full transcript of Cardinal Pell’s interview with CNA is below:

What is your evaluation of this Synod at the beginning of the third week?

Cardinal Pell: I think that we have worked hard at the Synod. We have made substantial progress. We are about to vote on the third part of the document. On the first two parts, on the overwhelming majority of issues, there was a very strong consensus.

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Cardinal Pell makes one point that I think most of us knew all along, though some were alarmed and had their doubts; that is, doctrine will not be touched. I guess after this that we will still have the same disagreements as this probably means doctrine will not be clarified.

You’re probably right. But then we’ve only been debating this ever since they removed the excommunications against divorcees, if not much earlier.

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