GEORGE Pell’s imminent promotion to cardinal in the Catholic church could see the Archbishop of Sydney summoned to a senior post in the Vatican.
The conservative Australian is widely seen as one of the Pope’s favourite bishops and many senior priests and Vatican-watchers expect him to be called to Rome for a top job.
At 62, the former Australian Rules footballer and muscular defender of traditional Catholic doctrines is well-placed to eventually become the most influential Australian ever to serve in the Vatican.
Ian Ker, a professor of theology at Oxford University, said Dr Pell has already been mentioned as a possible replacement for the 76-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the Pope’s doctrinal enforcer, responsible for defending Church orthodoxy.
However, other observers, like David Quinn, editor of Ireland’s weekly newspaper The Irish Catholic, say Pope John Paul II considers Dr Pell “a model bishop” and may prefer to leave him to exert his influence in Sydney for several more years.