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His Eminence, Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

  • 15 October 2015 12:00 AM
  • Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Another successful Sydney Catholic Business Network lunch that was held on 15th October 2015  at the Four Seasons Sydney with Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem as the guest speaker.

Cardinal O’Brien signalled the tone of his speech and won over his audience by opening with a fond recollection of Foster’s beers shared with his Australian comrades in a brief respite in his chaplaincy posting during the Vietnam war.  Speaking plainly in the no-frills style one would expect from someone from a military background, he wasn’t too far from echoing the main subject of his presentation, Pope Francis.

Cardinal O’Brien mentioned six key points that characterise Pope Francis’ pontificate: Simplicity, Spontaneity, Solidarity, Synodality, Subsidiarity and Symphony and there’s no doubt that Pope Francis has caught the world’s imagination for his marked difference from many of his predecessors. 

His Eminence said that Pope Francis’ popularity stems largely from his humble persona and genuine interest in engaging people on a deeper personal level.  A pope who’s not afraid to be counted among the ‘lowest’ with a  propensity for not sticking to the script which can prove challenging for those trying to keep up with his gentle but sprightly intellect. Cardinal O’Brien stated that the pope instigated the Year of Mercy showing both his fervour in reminding people of a loving merciful God, and our own role in reinforcing these messages through social action.  His election as pope is a clear recognition of the big changes that need to be made within the Curia and the Church in general, and Pope Francis advocates the need for more voices to be heard when trying to reach collective decisions, and stripping away some of the bureaucracy that have been detrimental to the Church’s progress in the past.  Finally, there is Pope Francis’ emphasis on our commonality as a people who need to work together to bring about universal good.

As Cardinal O’Brien has professed, His Holiness would prefer ‘a messy Church that’s alive than a completely orderly Church that’s moribund.’

He concluded his powerful presentation by reminding everyone in the room that we all have a voice in effecting the changes that we want to see in the world.  There is a duty that comes from being in a position of authority, and that faith with action (and action with faith) must always be a consideration in everything we do. 

Archbishop Fisher in his responding remarks also touched on another important aspect of Pope Francis’ tenure: Now that he’s caught the world’s imagination and has had people rethinking again of the Catholic Church’s role in society, how do we use this momentum and take full advantage of this evangelical opportunity?

The answer will be different for each one of us because, as Cardinal O’Brien said, ‘We all have a unique fingerprint in the role we play in the world.’