back to top
Monday, June 24, 2024
16.3 C
Sydney

A sea of supporters farewells a giant of the Church

Most read

Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Sweltering summer heat, angry protestors and a media scrum did little to deter around 4000 mourners from attending Cardinal George Pell’s funeral in Sydney.

Around 2000 people packed St Mary’s Cathedral and almost the same number gathered outside to watch the service on large screens.

People from all walks of life – the young and young at heart, mums with prams, the elderly and everything in between, stood in stifling conditions to pay their respects to the very public prelate.

“Angry exchanges between the Cardinal’s admirers and his detractors erupted with police stepping in.”

- Advertisement -

In scenes not seen in Australia since World Youth Day Sydney in 2008, priests and bishops left the Cathedral to distribute communion to the thousands outside the church, some who had been standing in the sun for up to five hours.

However, it wasn’t only the conditions that were heated.

Angry exchanges between the Cardinal’s admirers and his detractors erupted with police stepping in.

Despite a last-minute attempt to stop the protest over “safety” concerns, organisers from the Community Action for Rainbow Rights were given the green light to proceed once they agreed to change their demonstration route.

Cardinal Pell Mourners outside the cathedral are watched by police as they are tainted by members of the Community Action for Rainbow Rights group, Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Cardinal Pell Mourners outside the cathedral are watched by police as they are tainted by members of the Community Action for Rainbow Rights group, Photo: Alphonsus Fok

About 150 people protesting the church’s conservative views on LGBT rights and its response to the child abuse crisis began chanting “Pell, go to hell”, which could be heard inside the cathedral where the Cardinal served for more than a decade as archbishop.

While a small group of faithful became enraged, the majority responded by singing hymns and praying on their knees, Rosary beads in hand.

Catholics, each with their own story to tell about his Eminence, travelled from around Australia to pay tribute and share memories of the cardinal.

“I flew up to Sydney because I wanted to celebrate the life of Australia’s greatest Catholic.”

One mourner who flew up from Melbourne told The Catholic Weekly he hoped he would be remembered for his leadership and unwavering faith.

“I flew up to Sydney because I wanted to celebrate the life of Australia’s greatest Catholic,” IT consultant Ante Babic said.

“I have very fond memories of Cardinal Pell, he actually did my First Holy Communion.

“Despite being persecuted, he maintained his Catholic values right to the end.”

Polish-born Helina Gad sat up until 3am making signs of support for the Cardinal whom she regarded as a “humble man”. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Polish-born Helina Gad sat up until 3am making signs of support for the Cardinal whom she regarded as a “humble man”. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

A little closer to home, parishioner of St Felix De Valois, Bankstown, Helina Gad said she “would not have missed the funeral for the world”.

The Polish-born Catholic said he was a pillar of the church both here in Australia and internationally.

“I had actually met Cardinal Pell on a few occasions, he was such a caring and humble man,” she beamed.

“It was so important for me to be here, I stayed up until 3am making signs to show my support for the great man.”

“That is something that would never have happened in Poland, you would never had been able to get anywhere near a Cardinal, let alone speak to one.

“He was not afraid to meet with the people and hear their stories.

“It was so important for me to be here, I stayed up until 3am making signs to show my support for the great man.”

In the end it was the faithful who had the last word. As the hearse carrying the coffin made its way to the crypt of the cathedral, mourners drowned out the protesters by joining in song to the sound of Ave Maria.

Related Articles:

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -