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Cardinal Pell: Thomas Aquinas College Graduates 'Unusually Blessed and Advantaged'

June 3rd, 2008
Thomas Aquinas College (www.thomasaquinas.edu)

- College Grants Award to Australian Prelate -

SANTA PAULA, CA His Eminence George Cardinal Pell presided over commencement ceremonies at Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday, May 10, 2008. The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, Cardinal Pell served as principal celebrant and homilist of the Baccalaureate Mass, delivered the commencement address, and awarded diplomas to 80 graduates from 22 states and five countries. This was the college's largest graduating class in its 37-year history.

Cardinal Pell remarked during his commencement address that "Students at Thomas Aquinas College have an unusual advantage from their direct engagement for four years with the profound thinkers who have shaped our Western civilization. They have followed the traditional Socratic method of questioning and dialogue, continued their search for meaning and truth in a learning institution which is committed to the Catholic faith. Faith and reason are offered for their acceptance or rejection as they rigorously examine the intellectual claims of these great authors, religious or otherwise. I repeat that they have been unusually blessed and advantaged, because they have an ideal base for any professional course they might now choose to pursue."

During the commencement exercises, by resolution of the Board of Governors, Cardinal Pell was awarded the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, the college's highest honor, established by its Board of Governors in 1975. The resolution was given in recognition that "His Eminence George Cardinal Pell has shown an exemplary loyalty and devotion to the Holy Father and the magisterium of the Church and has worked tirelessly to proclaim, support, and defend the teachings of the Church, and to advance the mission of Christ on earth."

A native of Australia, Cardinal Pell was a member of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1990 to 2000, and he has been Chairman of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Commission for Doctrine and Morals since 2001. He has also served on the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Congregation for Education, and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Moreover, since 2002, Cardinal Pell has been president of the Vox Clara Committee, which advises the Congregation for Divine Worship on English translations of liturgical texts. This summer, he will host Pope Benedict XVI in Sydney for World Youth Day, scheduled for July 15-20. The event will attract more than 200,000 young people from around the world.

Said President Tom Dillon, "We were honored and delighted to welcome His Eminence Cardinal Pell to our campus for this joyful occasion. Our graduating seniors, their families, and all our guests were blessed by his priestly presence and edified by the words of wisdom he shared with us. We are most grateful to Cardinal Pell for making the long journey to our campus, especially as he prepares to welcome the Holy Father to his own archdiocese only weeks from now for World Youth Day."

ABOUT THOMAS AQUINAS COLLEGE: Ranked the #5 "Best Value" in the country for 2008 among all liberal arts institutions in the United States by The Princeton Review, Thomas Aquinas College is a four-year Catholic liberal arts college with a fully-integrated curriculum composed exclusively of the Great Books, the seminal works in the major disciplines by the great thinkers who have helped shape Western civilization. There are no textbooks, no lectures and no electives. Instead, using only the Socratic method of dialogue in all of their classes, students read and discuss the original works of authors such as Euclid, Dante, Galileo, Descartes, the American Founding Fathers, Adam Smith, Shakespeare, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, and of course, St. Thomas Aquinas. Graduates consistently excel in the many world-class institutions at which they pursue graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, business, theology and education. They have distinguished themselves serving as lawyers, doctors, business owners, priests, military service men and women, educators, journalists and college presidents.

ABOUT CARDINAL PELL: CARDINAL GEORGE PELL was born in Ballarat in1941, and studied for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Werribee, and Propaganda Fide College, Rome. He was ordained a Catholic priest St Peter's Basilica in 1966, and an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 1987. He was appointed seventh Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, and in 2001 Pope John Paul II appointed him the eighth Archbishop of Sydney. He was made a member of the Sacred College of Cardinals in 2003.

From 1990 to 2000 Cardinal Pell was a member of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he has been Chairman of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Commission for Doctrine and Morals since 2001. He has also served on the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Congregation for Education, and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Moreover, since 2002, Cardinal Pell has been president of the Vox Clara Committee, which advises the Congregation for Divine Worship on English translations of liturgical texts.

Cardinal Pell holds a Licentiate in Theology from Urban University, Rome (1967), a Masters Degree in Education from Monash University, Melbourne (1982), and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Church History from the University of Oxford (1971). He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, and was Visiting Scholar at Campion Hall, Oxford University, in 1979 and at St Edmund's College, Cambridge University, in 1983. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's in 2003.

Cardinal Pell is the author of Issues of Faith and Morals, published by Oxford University Press in 1996. Other publications include The Sisters of St Joseph in Swan Hill 1922-72 (1972), Catholicism in Australia (1988), Rerum Novarum: One Hundred Years Later (1992) and Catholicism and the Architecture of Freedom (1999). Since 2001, he has been a weekly columnist for Sydney's Sunday Telegraph. Be Not Afraid, a collection of Cardinal Pell's homilies and writings was published in 2004, and God and Caesar, a selection of Cardinal Pell's essays on religion, politics and society, was published in late 2007 by Catholic University of America Press.

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