Pell breaks tradition for sake of ecumenism

In a departure from tradition, last night's St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney celebration of Dr George Pell's elevation to the Sacred College of Cardinals started with evening prayer instead of mass.

The Australian reports that this allowed representatives of Protestant faiths, including Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen and Rev Alistair Christie from the NSW Uniting Church to join the occasion.

After the prayer, Cardinal Pell - described by The Australian as "resplendent in scarlet robes and his three-peaked cardinal's cap" - told the packed cathedral of his intention to strengthen ecumenical relations.

"Friendship, common prayer, dialogue (and) co-operation between different Christian churches is the future of life in Sydney," he said. "As archbishop, now cardinal, I promise to work to maintain these practices and spirit. I am deeply grateful for the presence of church leaders tonight, and pray God will bless our activities and communities."

Cardinal Pell is the seventh Australian cleric to be elevated to the College of Cardinals. His elevation last month, in a grand ceremony in Rome's St Peter's Square, means that Australia has a record three cardinals. The other two, Edward Cassidy and Edward Clancy, relinquish their voting rights when they turn 80, in July 2004 and December this year, respectively.

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