5 October 2003

Vegas will have to wait

But how cheering to read that the Foreign Minister, Lord Downer of Baghdad, thoroughly approves of this latest appointment to the Curia.

'The Government regards him as a good choice. We are delighted there is a new Australian cardinal, and such a distinguished Australian,' Lord Downer announced during a visit to the Vatican this week.

'I certainly want to congratulate the Pope on the appointment.'

I am unsure what qualifications the Foreign Minister brings to assessing princes of the Roman rite. He is an Anglican. If I am not wrong, the Downers of South Australia, in all their pomp, were one of the last landed Adelaide families to have a parson's living in their gift, as in Victorian England. Perhaps that is enough.

But no doubt the Pope will be thrilled that his decision to elevate Pell has got such a distinguished thumbs up.

Although the last time I saw the Pontiff on television he looked so pitifully decrepit that I don't think he'd notice if Downer drew up in St Peter's Square atop a caparisoned elephant with a Jamaican steel band and a troupe of acrobats.

I'm not sure what else anyone can say on this subject.

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