Australian Cardinal to Preside Over Commencement at Thomas Aquinas College

SANTA PAULA, Calif.-His Eminence George Cardinal Pell will preside over commencement ceremonies at Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday May 10, 2008. The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, Cardinal Pell will serve as principal celebrant and homilist of the Baccalaureate Mass, and he will deliver the commencement address.

By resolution of Thomas Aquinas College's Board of Governors, Cardinal Pell will also be awarded the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, the college's highest honor, established by its Board of Governors in 1975. The resolution is 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.

Says President Tom Dillon, "We very much look forward to welcoming His Eminence Cardinal Pell to our campus for this joyful occasion. Our graduating seniors, their families, and all our guests will be blessed by his priestly presence and edified by the words of wisdom he will share 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 only weeks later to the Archdiocese of Sydney."

Thomas Aquinas College expects each of its 80 seniors, who hail from 22 states and five countries, to receive a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts this year. The Baccalaureate Mass will begin at 9:00 a.m., and will be followed by commencement exercises at 11:00 a.m.

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 ofIssues of Faith and Morals,published by Oxford University Press in 1996. Other publications include The Sisters of St Joseph in Swan Hill1922-72 (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.