Pell said: “The really important issue for the Church is: Do we teach publicly what Christ taught? Now some of those teachings are quite unpopular: forgiveness, people with no rights like the unborn, people at the bottom of the pile, like prisoners, and then you can move to more controversial areas of family and marriage.”
The cardinal added that all leaders in the Church must decide whether or not to speak up about Church teachings at times when that message may be unpopular.
“You have all sorts of voices who are trying to crowd us out of the public square and saying we shouldn’t be doing this and that. Well, one of the things I am saying now and to all my successors is: We just have to keep talking,” he said.
“And our society will be deeply diminished to the extent it moves radically away from the Christian teachings on love and service and forgiveness.”
“And we can already see that in society in the changes that are taking place. We are often concentrating on the losses to the Church of a decline of practice and the departure of believers. That is certainly true, but it has big consequences for society generally, especially when a majority of the people had been Christian."
Cardinal Pell will turn 80 on June 8, thus becoming ineligible to vote in a future conclave. Asked how he felt heading into his 80s, the cardinal said he was grateful for the many blessings in his life.
"My biggest consolation now is that whatever my imperfections and foolishness, I haven’t thrown my life away on some nonsense cause -- like just making money for yourself. I have devoted my life to Christ, to the Church, imperfectly and ineffectively, but I get some considerable consolation from that,” he said.