The Bible and the breviary – with Lauds, Vespers, and the office of readings – were two of the six books, no more, that Cardinal Pell was allowed to select and keep with him in prison. Another was Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”

The cell was roughly 7 feet by 24, with the bed, the chair, the table, the sink, the toilet, the shower, the television. The window, with bars and tinted glass, always remained closed. The same cell block housed murderers and terrorists, some of them Muslims, and Pell could hear both their prayers and their shouting. Twice a day he was allowed to go out for half an hour into a small courtyard surrounded by high walls, there too all alone, and this was also the only time he could telephone. A couple of times a week he received visitors and from time to time a nun brought him Eucharistic communion. (…)

Yet his diary entries have nothing dark about them. Instead they are calm and soothing, with a touch of irony here and there. The Australian football and rugby matches find a wholehearted commentator in him. The writing is both simple and profound. There’s no complaining. Even when criticisms of Francis and Benedict XVI emerge, they are measured and unbiased, as can be seen in the passages below:


(March 3, Ash Wednesday, and Saturday March 23 2019, pp. 25 and 75)

[I’m] still following through with Hebrews, a great piece, which develops Paul’s central task of explaining Jesus’ role in Old Testament or Jewish categories; that he completes the work and message of the first Covenant. Fidelity to Christ and his teaching remains indispensable for any fruitful Catholicism, any religious revival. This is why the “approved” Argentinian and Maltese interpretations of “Amoris Laetitia” are so dangerous. They go against the teaching of the Lord on adultery and the teachings of St Paul on the necessary dispositions to receive Holy Communion properly. […]


(Saturday June 29 2019, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, p. 319)

I favour the millennial tradition that the popes do not resign, that they continue until their death, because this helps maintain the unity of the Church. Improvements in modern medicine have complicated the situation, ensuring that the popes of today and tomorrow are likely to live longer than their predecessors, even when their health has been much weakened. […]

However, the protocols on the situation of a pope who has resigned need to be clarified, to strengthen the forces for unity. While the retired pope could retain the title of “pope emeritus”, he should be renominated to the College of Cardinals so that he is known as “Cardinal X, Pope Emeritus”, he should not wear the white papal soutane and should not teach publicly. Because of reverence and love for the pope, many will feel reluctant to impose such restrictions on someone who once held the See of Peter. Probably the measures would be best introduced by a pope who had no surviving predecessor.


(Tuesday June 4 2019, p. 254)

I received yesterday, forwarded from Rome by my secretary there, Fr Anthony Robbie, a small card, covered with tiny illegible writing from Ted McCarrick. Despite repeated efforts, I could not read 80 or 90 percent of it, so that I could not even recognize his main message to me. He is eighty-nine years of age and signed himself “Ted McCarrick, Catholicus, olim cardinalis”, Latin for “Catholic, formerly a cardinal”.

He was always courteous toward me and was a gifted networker and fundraiser, well connected across the board and especially with the Democrats. Sadly, he caused a lot of harm in more ways than one. […] While I pray explicitly each day for the victims, I have not had a category on my prayer list for offending priests and delinquent bishops. I should remedy that, and I have prayed for Ted McCarrick, “olim cardinalis”.

Excerpts are from Sandro Magister’s blog, L’Espresso.