Assessing the Plenary: A work in progress

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How do I assess our Plenary Council thus far? Or make sense of its related word-of-the-moment, synodality? With apologies to Churchill, dare I hope it is the ‘end of the beginning’? But of what precisely? A priest-friend distilled the challenge rather well last week to me: what would success look like?

Humbly I say that is a work-in-progress but no apologies for that. For me, it offers the chance to review identities within the Church, to re-consider self-description or roles played over decades. The prize could be enabling some thriving to emerge out of the demoralisation of the last decade. Wouldn’t that be a blessing?

Who would facilitate such a significant process? No one group will manage alone. Catholic lay-people will need to discern (the other in-word)  how to reconfigure their rights and responsibilities as believers. Their consecrated sisters and brothers will also need to commit themselves willingly to that same process, to different relationships. It may well be the journey of their lives for both groups, a graced moment.

Words like rights and responsibilities reek of political language and worry people. But no, I don’t imagine the Plenary as some sort of ersatz Parliament, which is more the Anglican way and which alienates some Catholics. Above all, rights and responsibilities surely reek of citizenship, a much more inviting notion, more in keeping with being a pilgrim. It prompts new expectations, new liberation yet asks in return, a commitment to duty, a break from passivity.

Of course the modern world doesn’t like the word ‘duty’ much, too reminiscent of authoritarianism, of docility, or paternalism. However, a need to imagine the  appropriate duties that would be required of a fully engaged and admitted laity lies at the core of where we stand right now, perusing the Plenary.

 

'I don’t know what happened when the 11am live streaming stopped. But the clear sense was, people didn’t check themselves and their thoughts, but threw themselves into the structure provided, all together, confident they were trying their best, determined not to waste a good crisis.'  

 

How will lay-people step up? How will consecrated brothers and sisters learn to reset their relationships, still heavily governed by the honour of service, a source of pride already for many?

As Churchill knew back in 1940 when he challenged demoralised Britons under threat from Hitler, the task beyond mere words was herculean, with uncertain outcomes. But the words mattered then and do now.

Yes, I do live in hope that an invigorated Church in Australia is possible to achieve. I do recognise the effort required. I think the Plenary could be a critical step. That the event took place at all matters. Astonishingly, its sometimes brittle processes prevailed, amidst a pandemic, requiring impressive technical adaptation by many people.

Forgive the sentimentality, but what Australian didn’t hold his/her breath as the full scope of transmission began to unfold, over the wide, brown land? Would the centre hold? It did, mostly, though I never took it for granted, based on bitter experience elsewhere.   

The commitment over the week was amazing to see. Most, I suspect, survived a personal digital panic of some sort during the week after which the whole Plenary  began to seem a bit like ‘the little train that could’. My God, it might work!

What’s more, the various pandemic-inspired restrictions actually conferred less distractions. Focus was sharper, in my view, time-giving more generous. The Church was the beneficiary, maybe considerably more than the original plan of an Adelaide assembly.  

As I ponder it all, three separate quotes have been sustaining me, referring both to the wider synodal process initiated by Pope Francis and to our own Plenary.

One is from Fr Santiago Madrigal SJ, published in Church Life (Oct 21): ‘The Pope has set a next goal for the whole Church, which we can express in the famous verses of Antonio Machado: Caminante, no hay camino, se have camino al andar (Wayfarer, the path is not there, it is to be made by walking).

Another from Fr Brian Lucas, in Eureka Street (Oct 21), referring to the Pope’s address to the Mozambique Jesuit community in 2019: ‘Great shepherds give people a lot of freedom. The good shepherd knows how to lead his flock without enslaving it to rules that deaden people. The shepherd has the ability to go in front of the flock to show the way, stay in the middle of the flock to see what happens within and also be at the rear of the flock to make sure no-one is left behind.’

The last is from Massimo Faggioli, the Italian theologian-commentator, in La Croix (October 21): ‘Being a ‘listening Church’ does not mean just listening to one another or listening to the Holy Spirit. It also means listening to what culture — religious and secular — has to say to the Church.’

Listening to my own desires and hopes, I decided the test would be: will I change during the week, in some way? Will I see myself differently as a Catholic Australian?

I think I did. The ex-priest and commentator Kevin Liston felt that lay Catholics came out of the shadows and found their own voices… ‘a shift from the Church of the bishops to the Church of the people and the bishops’. We heard women and men speak from their hearts, unworried by hierarchical rank, he said, simply ready to contribute to a narrative that made sense to us Australians.

 

'If the Church is to observably think differently of itself — and persuade the culture around it that new skin is being donned — self-identification among a wide range of Catholics will need to occur.'

 

I wasn’t ‘behind the wall’, as it were. That is, I don’t know what happened when the 11am live streaming stopped. But the clear sense was, people didn’t check themselves and their thoughts, but threw themselves into the structure provided, all together, confident they were trying their best, determined not to waste a good crisis.  

We simply don’t yet know how those copious ideas will be sorted and distilled. That is yet to come. I will keep my eyes and ears open. I will accord the organisers, certainly at this stage, the trust of imagining they’re facing their duties ethically. I desperately hope that holds true.  

One very active parishioner I know professed a range of sceptical responses. Without fully disagreeing, I said I was ready to suspend my concerns… till July next year. Amidst all my insecurities, I am prepared to start walking on that path mentioned by Pope Francis, despite the lack of a good map.

More than at any other time since the years immediately post Vatican Two, I sense new skin being donned, to see what it feels like.

With others in my own and surrounding parishes, we’ll try to explore what this relatively new word to Catholics, ‘synodality’ means at the very local level. The Pope’s sense that it is ‘one of the most precious inheritances of the Second Vatican Council’ rings true, even though the concept of synodality is not found explicitly in the Council documents. However, as Fr Madriaga explores, the essential conciliarity or synodality of the Church exemplified by the gathering at Vat 2, and remembering the history of Church meetings over centuries, underpins the whole idea.

‘Synodality, as a constitutive dimension of the Church, offers us the most adequate interpretative framework for understanding the hierarchical ministry itself,’ according to the Vatican document issued just before the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome.

A Church that journeys together, amidst a synodal process, must be lived at various levels: walking together, the people, the bishops and the Pope, it emphasises.

How will all the discerning — in those spiritual conversations promoted so well by Brother Ian Cribb SJ — lead to decisions that must surely involve yielding notions of self and calling?

Indeed without shifts in attitudes among consecrated brothers and sisters, any potential shifts among laity will wither on the vine. If the Church is to observably think differently of itself — and persuade the culture around it that new skin is being donned — self-identification among a wide range of Catholics will need to occur. Much is to come.

It is worth the effort of trying. Hostility to the Church and believers is generally recognised as its greatest threat. I beg to differ. Indifference is the demon, which was well-and-truly abroad in our culture even before the scandals of child abuse.

The Plenary Council is an antidote to indifference. Let the journey towards that elusive success begin.

 

 

Geraldine Doogue headshotGeraldine Doogue AO is a renowned Australian journalist and broadcaster with experience in print, television and radio. She hosts Saturday Extra with ABC Radio National.

Topic tags: Geraldine Doogue, Plenary Council, progress, synodality, Church

 

 

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I admire your sense of hope Geraldine!


Narelle Mullins | 16 November 2021  

In an outcome-obsessed age, it is heartening to see such intelligent questions raised. Thank you, Geraldine.


Denise O'Hagan | 16 November 2021  

Geraldine, I admire your earnest love for our Catholic faith and your honest communication of your devotion to it. It was encouraging to witness the depth of commitment for change. This commitment highlights the yearning to leading us back to a place of hope, a place of our future reconciliation. There has been a longish period of turmoil and unsettling despair. The Plenary Council can restore but dedication to the task is essential. Thanks for your dedication.


Pam | 16 November 2021  

Immediate reaction: not a word can be faulted or an expectation short-lived - a great reassurance for doubtful laity and, unaware of her previous articles, my wonder if privately she had kept the faith. She certainly has and with a clear understanding of the purpose of the Synod.


Brian Davies | 16 November 2021  
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Brian Davies, please do your research before posting, especially when it comes to applying inappropriate tests on public commentators about whether they have 'kept the faith' in their private lives or not. Geraldine Doogue, like me and many other Catholics, is a divorced person. So what?


Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

Thankyou to Geraldine Doogue for this layperson's assessment of the Plenary. I am a member of the Uniting Church and the process described reminds me of the the preparatory process and instigation of the UCA. While the distinction between clergy and lay was not as rigid as in other churches- all these years later we are still a work in process. At the last meeting of the Roman Catholic-Uniting Church Dialogue in SA the Catholics present spoke with some excitement and hope of a new process and a new beginning. It was much as weUCers felt when the Uniting Church emerged from a very long process. May you travel well ! Shalom.


Barbara Horne | 16 November 2021  

I wish I could share your almost-optimism Geraldine. I suppose time will tell.


Frank S | 16 November 2021  

How is Antonio Machados' assertion Caminante, no hay camino" (Wayfarer, there is no path) from his "Proverbios y Cantares" applicable to a faith community based on Christ, "the way, the truth and the life"(Jn 14:6) who says to all: "Follow me."? Australian theologian and Plenary Council adviser Fr James McEvoy identifies tradition as one of the three foundations in the process of discernment: "You and I, then, have a heritage: our communal discernment doesn't start from ground zero." (www.thesouherncross.org.au July, 2021, p.10)


John RD | 16 November 2021  
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Good comments John RD.

Strongly in tune with an archiepiscopal heavyweight:

BALTIMORE, Md. — While the Catholic Church’s position in the world has altered, its evangelistic mission: “Does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminded his fellow bishops Nov. 16 at their fall assembly.

“Again and again, Pope Francis reminds us: The Church exists to evangelize. There is no other reason for the Church. To be a Christian is to be a missionary disciple. There is no other definition,” said Archbishop Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The Church’s position in society has changed. We cannot count on numbers or our influence in society. None of that ever really mattered anyway,” he said. “We are here to save souls. And Jesus promised us that if we seek his Kingdom first, everything we need will be given to us.”

“What is the best way to help our people to live and work and minister as Catholics in this moment? How can we help our people to raise their children and engage with their neighbors and the culture? As a Church, how should we evangelize and go about the task of striving for justice and the renewal of our society?” Archbishop Gomez asked.

“Many of the differences that we see in the Church these days are rooted in the different points of view that we have over how the Church should answer these basic questions,” he said.

“There is a reason for this,” Archbishop Gomez continued. “It is because we are living in a moment when human society seems to be losing its ‘story.’”

Archbishop Gomez’s address touched on some of the same themes he raised in a speech he delivered by video Nov. 4 to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid, Spain. His remarks then sparked both praise and criticism for his critique of “workerism” and other ideological social justice movements that he said run counter to the Church's understanding of humanity’s God-given dignity and freedom.

“For most of our history, the story that gave meaning to our lives was rooted in a biblical worldview and the values of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It was the story of the human person created in God's image and invested with an earthly vocation to build a society where people could live in freedom, with equality and dignity,” Archbishop Gomez said Tuesday.

“This story underwrote America's founding documents. It shaped the assumptions of our laws and institutions, it gave substance to our everyday ideals and actions,” he said.

“What we see all around us now, are signs that this narrative may be breaking down. This is one of the consequences of living in a secular society. We all need God to help us to make sense of our lives, so when we try to live without God, we can become confused,” he said.

“Many of our neighbors are searching. They are looking for a new story to give meaning to their lives, to tell them what they are living for and why,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“But my brothers (and sisters), our neighbors do not need a new story. What they need is to hear the true story — the beautiful story of Christ's love for us, his dying and rising from the dead for us, and the hope he brings to our lives.”

Archbishop Gomez began and ended his remarks by referring to an address given in 1889 by Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minn. titled: “The Mission of Catholics in America.”

“The next century of the life of the Church in America will be what we make it. … As we will it, so shall the story be. … There is so much at stake for God and souls, for Church and country!” said Ireland.

“The duty of the moment is to understand our responsibility, and to do the full work that heaven has allotted to us,” Ireland said. “With us it will be done, without us it will not be done.”

“Brothers (and sisters), two things strike me about this address,” Archbishop Gomez observed.

“First, Archbishop Ireland teaches that every Catholic shares responsibility for the Church's mission. Bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious & consecrated, and lay men and women — we are all baptized to be missionaries,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“Second, he understood that the Church’s purpose does not depend on forces outside the Church. It does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” he said.

“The Church’s mission is the same in every time and place,” Archbishop Gomez said:

“It is to proclaim Jesus Christ & to help every person to find him & to walk with Him.”

---------------------------------------------------


Dr Marty Rice | 20 November 2021  

Marty, you're wrong! Without secularism ensconced in the US Constitution, Catholics would still be a persecuted minority, which they originally were when confined to living in Maryland. +Gomez's appeal to US religiosity, invoked more often than not to persecute and bully minorities seeking recognition of their rights, and as cited in that context in Archbishop Ireland's address, grossly misreads the current context. +Ireland was securing the claims of dirt-poor Irishwomen and men, who were the target of WASP resentment for immigrating in such large numbers to a country in which WASP privilege hitherto ruled supreme. He (+Ireland) was staking a claim on behalf of his Catholic constituents, who, apart from the fledgling Democratic Party of the Eastern Seaboard (its strength was in the South where it was segregationist and Protestant) lacked representation in the anti-Catholic and very wealthy Republican Party of the North. +Ireland's historically-renowned speech had two audiences, the US political class of both parties as well as the Catholic masses, viz. to urge the former that Catholics were loyal and the latter to identify themselves as Americans and not as Irish. Gomez's usurpation was recently employed by him to criticise American Catholic support for the Church's Social Teaching.


Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

‘secularism ensconced’

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ is liberty for reasonable religious beliefs ensconced.

‘Secularism’ is something different. ‘The term was coined c.1850 to denote a system which sought to order and interpret life on principles taken solely from this world, without recourse to belief in God and a future life. It is now used in a more general sense of the tendency to ignore, if not to deny, the principles of supernatural religion.’

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100451660


There is evidence to show that fear of the overlordship of the Anglican Church by other Protestant denominations set the ground for ideas that religious liberty should be legally protected.

https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel03.html


The protection of non-religious thought is an outgrowth of that. However, just as the US Supreme Court has ruled that reasonable regulation of the ‘freedom to bear arms’ is permissible, it is also reasonable to regulate beliefs in the supernatural so that they do not bloody another’s nose (eg., suppressing sharia criminal law, or Aboriginal spearing).

Because God is also Reason, ultimately a religious proscription is founded upon secular reasoning that the supernatural belief is, in fact, reasonable and, thus, valid. Is a foetus a ‘human being’? Can homosexual co-habitation produce a child nurtured in both of its genetic lineages? Is it a human right to be nurtured in both of your genetic lineages? The visible workings of God’s creation validate the invisible foundations of his proscriptions.


roy chen yee | 28 November 2021  

I am delighted Eureka Street prevailed upon someone of your calibre and impartiality to write this article, Geraldine. You are not in anyone's pocket and your opinions are really your own and refreshing. I certainly think the Catholic Church here has its Augean Stables to clear out. One of the problems with synodality is that it is primarily concerned with the way of doing things, something our hierarchs, brought up in Mannix-Mulkearns mode, where 'Father is always right' have not fully grasped. Whether this current generation as a group ever will is a moot point. Nevertheless, there are some who do. Serious doctrinal issues are not up for grabs and it would be silly to raise them. Other issues, such as married clergy in the Latin Rite and birth control, which are not doctrinal, can and should be raised.


Edward Fido | 17 November 2021  

Geraldine
We listened to your first podcast and wanted to thank you for your contribution. It is terrific to share with you on Saturday Extra but this journey is exciting for a serious plodder after Jesus.


Neville Hunt | 17 November 2021  

There may well indeed be a pressing need for the reform of the man made administrative structures of the Church which will be served by synodality. The big problem lies with the self-chosen crusaders who in their inspiration know better than Christ and intend to inform him of where he went wrong and how his instituted Church must change to fit their views. Change the things that generations of Caesars have buggered up but leave to God the things that are Gods - things such as the sacraments and the written word [most young Catholics today couldn't enumerate the sacraments, have no idea what they mean and have never, and almost certainly never will, read the scared scriptures wherein the nature of Church is well recorded for posterity or indeed the Vatican II documents. Perhaps the one thing synodality has going for it is that it is fundamentally an English, pragmatic system unlike the Italian or Irish authoritarian brands which are perhaps the big problem that plagues the Catholic Church in Australia [a different thing from the aspiring Australian Reformed Catholic Church].


john frawley | 17 November 2021  

Wanting to “persuade the culture around it”, sounds like a desire to be part of an enervated post-Christian culture that must soon be swamped by other, more rigorous cultures. We need a few John the Baptists to challenge our corrupt culture, not to get into bed with it.
The Vatican tried that when it signed a secret deal with the Chinese Communist Party, a deal which Cardinal Zen says will “kill the church.” Priests are now forced to base their homilies on President Xi’s sayings, pictures of the Virgin Mary are replaced with portraits of Xi, and the Vatican remains silent on the genocidal detention of a million Uighur Muslims.
The Vatican lost its moral authority over its China deal. John the Baptist lost his head, but retained his moral authority.


Ross Howard | 17 November 2021  

Geraldine, I have been a spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition at what used to be Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality for several years, before the Jesuits set us free , as they saw it, nearly two years ago. I'm deeply at home in that tradition, but in light of the malaise of the Church, have not joined it. I, too, hope that the solid bloc of Australian Bishops do not fall into the grievous error of ignoring the lived experience of those who are not ordained. To do so would be not only contrary to my understanding of Jesus' inclusive ministry and intimacy with women who followed and supported him at the last, but (I can say this) incredibly foolish. Love doesn't die, but human institutions and entitlement always does. Thank you for making me think there MIGHT be some intelligent discernment and an outcome fit for a pandemic and the clearly looming climate and cultural collapses. Love and humility


Moira | 17 November 2021  

Your pith, Gerry, pervades your opening paragraph. The rest, with apologies, is a fervorino. How, indeed, do we assess our Plenary Council thus far? Who will tell us? Where are those goals identified and published? If not, why not? If it is the ‘end of the beginning’, the beginning of 'what', pray? You open with: 'A priest-friend distilled the challenge rather well last week to me: what would success look like?' Let's have concrete, identifiable signposts, standards and goals, by which to evaluate what we've achieved, instead of making some of the responses you seem to have generated from your impressive opening gambit what regrettably looks to me like a meaningless masquerade of squeaks and tweaks of a mostly identifiablly rusted-on Catholic twitterati. Of course, it doesn't mean to say I am right and they are wrong; but let's at least establish a common language of communication before heading down what, I'm afraid, appears to be a primrose path camouflaging unbudging concrete laid beneath it light years ago. The consequent risks are these: we sheep will eat the primroses, the concrete will paralyse our cleft hooves, and our shepherds will struggle to carry an entire flock on their overburdened shoulders.


Michael Furtado | 17 November 2021  

Thank you Geraldine for sharing your insights so clearly with us. For me, you gave a realistic account of the first session of the Plenary Council. It is a work in progress that equates with the sum total of each of our lives. If we could embrace our beloved Church with the realism, that we all are "works in progress" we may be able to live more authentically within the Church and beyond. Coming into this season of Advent, which begins the new liturgical year, reminds us that we are always becoming. In a sense, the pilgrim Church is an Advent Church on the move yet waiting in hope. Thanks for being there as a sound and well-informed commentator for us. Blessings on your continued work as a good advocate ensuring our Church grows the new in such an open and productive space as we have now at this time in our history.


Patty Andrew | 17 November 2021  

Geraldine, no disrespect to the aspirations in your rose coloured glasses. If Rome can blithely disregard 12 of the 14 recommendations of the Royal Commission - largely to bolster their grip on power over the Australian church, that gives carte blanche to the local hierarchy to not only ignore the public debate on the parlous state of internal church religious morality, but also to ignore the human rights issues and abuses being perpetuated by the scarlet hats in Rome.
These are: equal rights for women - to which they pay lip service by stating they support the UDHR. A corollary of that is female and married men ordination. To sweep these fundamental issues under the Cathedral rugs means that the PC is merely window dressing in the holy name of the Vatican.


Francis Armstrong | 17 November 2021  

I think John Frawley is quite correct in wanting a more pragmatic approach to synodality rather than the outdated authoritarian approach we have had imposed on us by the hierarchy. There are indeed bishops, such as Archbishop Collins in Cairns. who is up-to-date and progressive in the sense he is not authoritarian. He also talks about contemporary issues such as the stupidity of the pseudo-science of the anti-vaxers. John F and John RD are both correct to say that doctrinal matters are not up for grabs. It is interesting that the most literally florid commenter here, Michael Furtardo, contemptuously puts down what he refers to as the twitterati, which I think is Furtardospeak for anyone who disagrees with him. I have also never, ever, heard you referred to as 'Gerry'.


Edward Fido | 17 November 2021  
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Edward, much as I am complimented by your description of my writing as florid, I try to stick to facts rather than random impressions. Ordinarily it would be an impertinence to abbreviate a name unless I knew someone: thus you force me to say that I have met Geraldine from time to time, including being interviewed by her ABC colleague Stephen Crittenden. This being a discussion about the value of Gerry's contribution to the synod and ES's coverage of it, there are quite a few references to Mannix in particular and the Australian Church in general that you make which, while fascinating, open themselves up for comment. One of the better known analytical historians of the vast and complex history of the Catholic Church in Australia is John Molony. Professor Fr Edmund Campion, who is known as its thematic doyen, has famously acknowledged that he concurs strongly with the widely-held view that John Molony of ANU who wrote 'The Roman Mould of the Australian Catholic Church (MUP, 1969) was the most correct in describing Mannix's greatest achievement as giving the Irish a free hand in ignoring Rome and giving Australian Catholicism the stamp of its unique and generally forthright character.


Michael Furtado | 20 November 2021  

'Archbishop Collins'? 'Cairns'? My esteemed friend, James Foley, is Catholic Bishop of Cairns. A brilliant scholar and wonderful pastor, long may he continue to discharge that role!


Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Presently we Christians the self-proclaimed lovers of God are manifestly divided before mankind and each other. but the reality of that brokenness’ is not been acknowledged honestly as the elite cling to an image of Worldly Goodness hoping that it will eventually deflect the ongoing reality of the present situation without having to confront the failings within the leadership of the Church.

So, we need to be true to His teachings before we can ‘give’ /convey’ the Christian message/vision in Unity of Purpose.

Our Lord Himself in this present time has given His Church a ‘vision’ of hope’ to embrace humility via the True Divine Mercy Image that is one of Broken Man which from my uneducated understanding has the potential to draw the Church into a new dawn, while ‘giving’ a manifestation of a truly humble church/people before God and ‘all whom we encounter in the world. So, in the true DM image, we see a reflection of ourselves before Him (As he actually sees us). Which should have the effect of drawing ourselves even closer to Him in humility. (For a further understanding See the link

https://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2020/11/full-text-of-the-mccarrick-report-published-today-in-rome/#comment-99319

While the true divine Mercy Image is hidden from view, for if the elite were to show it and acknowledge (Display) it, they would have to face the reality of their own hubris/blindness before mankind in not showing/accepting it in the first place. This for some/many would induce humility creating a mindset to confront Clericalism honestly and many ongoing problems within the church.

Because when the Truth is embraced honestly, it will induce humility within the heart. A Truthful heart/church will never cover its tracks (Past) or hide from its shortcomings, and in doing so, confers authenticity, as it walks in its own vulnerability/weakness/brokenness in trust/faith before God and mankind. It is a heart (Leadership) to be trusted, as it ‘dispels’ darkness within its own self/ego, in serving God (Truth) first, before any other.

If we walk His ‘Way’ we will eventually accept ourselves and then each other in wholeheartedness, while we are led along the path/Way of spiritual enlightenment, the ongoing transformation of the human heart, a moist heart, a gentle tearful one, one of compassion, where eventual it is not possible to judge another individual harshly, for to do so would be to judge/condemn one’s self. Rather in our humility, we would want for all our brothers and sisters no matter what their state of being, that which we have been given ourselves, His known gift of Divine Mercy, which can only be known/accepted in a humble/Vulnerable heart, before Him because is that not what Christianity (Love of God) is all about

“Learn from me I am meek and lowly of heart” and you shall find rest to your souls”

Or put another way, learn from His vulnerability, while in humble ‘simplicity’, we are been emptied (Set free) of the selfhood; we will then eventually find (the lost coin, a dewdrop, a mustard seed, pearl) His gift of joy/peace/the Holy Spirit, the spiritual ‘treasure’, dwelling while adorning our own hearts/souls.

kevin Your brother
In Christ



Kevin Walters | 17 November 2021  

I think we need to be optimistic, but realistic, about what synodality will do under the current crop of bishops. What we are discussing is how Church business is conducted between the hierarchy and the laity. If this is done well it may help to revitalise the Church. This is not primarily a spiritual exercise, although we do hope it is carried out in the true spirit of Christ. That is not impossible. There were many very good people who laid the foundations of the Church in Australia, the majority of who were Irish. Some of them, like the early Jesuits or Mother Barry of Ballarat, were absolutely first class. Ireland had a dreadful time under the 400 years of the Ascendancy and many, not all, Irish hierarchs behaved towards their flocks following that dreadful example. Sadly, Daniel Mannix stayed on long after he should've handed over to the exemplary Justin Symonds. Mannix in his later years was well past it and set a dreadful authoritarian tone which was followed by the appallingly inept Ronald Mulkearns, who let so many good people in Ballarat down. We need to exorcise this. We could take the example of the Irish and American Churches. We need to move on. The Irish have. So have the Americans. They are like us, their culture is not 'strange' or 'foreign'.


Edward Fido | 18 November 2021  

Edward F. Couldn't agree more that we have to move on. However, I would be wary of moving on in the footsteps of Ireland or the USA, both of whom have largely lost any claim to being Catholic. Far better to follow the English Catholic tradition born out of and faithfully surviving perhaps the most severe persecution of the Catholic faithful that the world has ever seen - through 117 years of slaughter and another 300 odd of discrimination in many aspects of life.


john frawley | 18 November 2021  
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John Frawley, Gratifying that you and Edward have so much to agree on, even though his position on Church renewal is clearly more favourable to it than your's. Conscious then that this correspondence could easily become a forum for cantankerous and nostalgic old men, I wonder where you would place the English & Welsh Church and, because of its separate jurisdiction, the Scottish, were it not for the massive immigration of Irish labourers into Britain from the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century onwards? After all, while the Reformation wars certainly took their cruel toll on English Catholics, they also did so on French Protestants at the hands of French Catholics. Assuming the score is now even and, hopefully, forgiven and forgotten on both sides, most English Catholic historians are agreed that, reduced to a recusant rump, British Catholicism would be reduced to the status of Catholicism in the 'Scandinavias'. Let us then abandon this mutually admiring back-patting and address a much more relevant question that you have now been avoiding for a fortnight. Where is your response to evidence you sought from Peter Johnstone, and which I provided, about homosexuality being innate rather than culturally-acquired? (ES, Nov 11, '21).


Michael Furtado | 22 November 2021  

This piece and responses are truly remarkable. Basically fundamentalist. a. Church reform information is not to be found in The New Testament. That is not its objective. b. Church reform might be motivated by Christianity but that does not determine an appropriate structure for the organization. c. Who thinks that a hierarchy with privilege will yield up its power without a fight? When will the laity realize they gave and give the power to the clerics?


Michael D. Breen | 19 November 2021  
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Michael, you say “Who thinks that a hierarchy with privilege will yield up its power without a fight?
What sustains the power of evil within the Church today? Is it not privilege?
The reality of this power/evil today within the church is manifest by ‘privileged’ laity who colluded with the elite, in what could be described as a Church within a Church which appears to be held together by a ..V.. which I believe signifies ‘one’ of the five points of the Pentagram. This given ..V.. transforms itself into a Circle of Worldly Power. All circles of worldly power rely on secrecy, this gives an advantage based on deception and serves the Evil One. He cannot be beaten at his own game, the early Christians used signs and gestures, but these can be duplicated, then we have duplicity and confusion at play; for those on the outside, like me, friend or foe you no longer know.

It was put to me many years ago, “it’s a bit like the game of tag, you pass the lurgy (British slang) to someone else” Conclusion you then become part of Groupthink ..V.. (The privileged herd). While also being told jovially “the new holder of the lurgy always has the option to get rid of his load (Worldly troubles) by passing it on.

While the V (Two finger sign often used covertly) is used widely within society which often promotes advantage or the expectation of advantage in commerce, education, healthcare, publishing, media, etc, and all organized community activities including those within the religious sphere which enables corruption to flourish.
The true Divine Mercy Image is an image of broken Man and at last after many years of demonstrating that the elite have broken the Second Commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” I have had an acknowledgment from a well-informed conservative poster in these words …“There is infinitely more to His life and grace than one saint’s painting and the Church’s failure in its regard One day God will set it all right”

We see the emblematic sign of two via the picture in the link below which says to those conspirators Stop! back off! and in doing so they collude with the Prince of this World. In effect, they become enablers/guardians to those who distort the Truth for their own ends. May God have mercy on them.

https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/04/27/sharing-the-love-and-mercy-of-god-in-desperate-world/

kevin your brother
In Christ


Kevin Walters | 19 November 2021  

Well said, Michael! The real problem is that we worship the clergy; not, as we ought to, the Eucharist, which, of itself, constitutes an egregious heresy!


Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

A central problem, as John Frawley points out, is 'man made administrative structures' But when you have bishops from Sydney and Tasmania - early in the Plenary as Francis Sullivan has publicly noted - bringing their own strong conservative views rather than perhaps listening and discerning, there is resistance to fundamental reform. Of course many people support this, just as they support Morrison, the Nationals and Trump in America as well as the American bishops who would like to censure Biden. There is deep division in the Church about the need for reform. In a strict secular sense Bishops Fisher and Porteous would be removed from the board of a commercial firm that presided over such a dark period of sexual abuse. Furthermore, the departure of so many Catholics from the Church tells a story. 90% of Catholics don't attend mass. Key leadership elements of the Church are locked into the past. What really is appealing to many is an Opus Dei spirituality that produces a fervour and commitment that needs to be closely examined. Bishop Porteous has written publicly about his concerns about the increasing role of the laity in the Church: listening and discernment are desirable in leaders.


Peter Donnan | 19 November 2021  

The Vatican cannot be sued in European courts because it is a sovereign state, the (ECHR) ruled Tuesday Aug 21 2021 in dismissing a suit from survivors of abuse by Catholic clergy. (source CNN)

"It was the ECHR's first case to deal with the immunity of the Holy See, the court said."
24 Belgian, French and Dutch abuse survivors attempted to sue the Holy See and Catholic Church leaders in Belgian courts beginning in 2011, but courts in that country ruled they did not have jurisdiction over the Vatican, the European Court of Human Rights said in explaining its ruling.
Very similar to the Ellis ruling run by Pells lawyers which said the Church in Australia is not a Corporation sole. (Pell vowed to crush Ellis).
However since The Ellis Defence has been overcome, the Church in Australia is able to be sued. Since Australia is a signatory to the UDHR and the Church operates in this jurisdiction, there is no reason why a class action by women for equal rights shouldn't be successful. That suit could also include a Declaration that the 12 recommendations of the RC that were denied by Rome should apply within Australia. Why Australians continue to accept unilateral precepts decreed by the Vatican is a mystery to me.


Francis Armstrong | 20 November 2021  

“self-identification among a wide range of Catholics will need to occur. Much is to come”

Yes! but it will take courage as the reality of a Church within a Church will have to be confronted first as described in my post above directed at Michael D. Breen | 19 November
kevin your brother
In Christ


Kevin Walters | 20 November 2021  

John F, I am not sure Ireland has lost the Faith. Most Irishmen and Irishwomen are very much what I would call 'residual Christians' as are most ordinary Australians. Many of the early Governors viz Macquarie, Gipps and Latrobe were deeply Christian and had a thoroughly good effect on society. The English recusant families have a unique history, which my own does not share. Some of my ancestors were Church of England clergy and as important, clergymen's wives. The example of decent clerical families living together is something we in the Latin Rite do not see. In this day and age where you can see abominations parading as normal sexuality every day on the internet and some of the TV series are gross, this example is sorely needed.


Edward Fido | 21 November 2021  
Show Responses

'We in the Latin Rite', Edward? I thought you'd crossed the Volga to join our Orthodox cousins? If not, welcome back!


Michael Furtado | 22 November 2021  

Your example Edward, of Macquarie being a good Christian defies logic. "In April 1816, Macquarie ordered soldiers under his command to kill or capture any Aboriginal people they encountered during a military operation aimed at creating a sense of "terror". At least 14 men, women and children were brutally killed, some shot, others driven over a cliff. 26 Sept 2017 ABC News.
Now George Gipps I'll grant sought justice for Aborigines murdered at Waterloo Creek and Moree and took a stand against the Squattocracy. 7 were hanged.
As for Gipps, he was ineffectual in righting wrongs against Aboriginals. He laboured over the "mental capacity " issue and the exclusion of Aboriginal evidence because they could not swear by the existence of a "God" of whom they knew nought. Hence the only credible evidence generally admitted was white squatter testimony. His colleague Wentworth, on the second defeat of the Aboriginal protection bill in NSW decried the testimony of Aborigines as equivalent to the cries of "Ourang outans". And the abominations you describe? look no further than the priests and brothers who run the "latin rite" boarding schools and orphanages in this damned unlucky country.


Francis Armstrong | 22 November 2021  

You make an important point, Edward. And, as I imagine you'd know from the direct experience of some of your Jesuit alumni, it was not uncommon in Australia until recent times for Roman Catholics, particularly those of Italian and Irish background, to have priest members of their families - sometimes, more than one. Though different from the admirable Anglican "clerical families living together" you identify, the Catholic mode of "clerical families" usually was, and still is - though not as common now - bracing for families and the faith. Praying for priests and vocations to the priesthood remains a vital part of our tradition.


John RD | 25 November 2021  

I'm weeping after reading so many elegant words and phrases by a renowned Australian journalist and broadcaster, purportedly referring to our branch of the universal church founded by and on Jesus Christ alone, without mention of Jesus at all.

The contrast is stark: At the beginning of Peter's Second Letter we find: "By Christ's divine power, we have been given all the things we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God in person, who calls us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, Jesus has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come; through these we will be able to share in the divine nature and escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice."

"To attain this, each of us has to do the utmost by adding goodness to faith, understanding to goodness, self-control to understanding, patience to our self-control, true worship to our patience, kindness to all people to our worship, and to this kindness, love. If we have a generous supply of these we will not be ineffectual or unproductive, for they will bring us to a genuine knowledge of God. It is in this way that we will be granted admittance to the eternal realm of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

Geraldine Doogue AO's polished prose puts Peter's bluff epistle to literary shame. However, every truly discerning Catholic will know where the nutriment is.

Hopefully, a few Plenary councilors do comprehend Peter's well-tested instructions on how the Church - laity with clerics - can shake off the ineffectual and unproductive and escape the general corruption that has penetrated so deeply.

With respects, dear Geraldine: Not by "donning a new skin." A general re-awakening to what is offered by Jesus Christ is the soul way, if we plan to do some good.

Always in the love of Jesus; blessings from Marty


Dr Marty Rice | 21 November 2021  
Show Responses

Thank you, Dr Marty. I think every person and every age needs a narrative based on the reality of what we are as people in society and the world, and I believe our contact with that reality and the unique narrative it gives rise to is disclosed and available in the person of Christ and the witness of the saints throughout history. As Archbishop Gomez says in his address to the recent assembly of American bishops from which you've quoted (20/11), our lives as followers and companions of Jesus are to proclaim him and to help every person to find him and walk with Him. Please God, the Plenary Council's process will be a means for all participants of growing in the relationship begun in baptism with Christ and one another; and of inspiration and efficacy for making Christ known and loved.


John RD | 22 November 2021  

"Please God, the Plenary Council's process will be a means for all participants of growing in the relationship begun in baptism with Christ and one another; and of inspiration and efficacy for making Christ known and loved." A big 'Amen' to that!

Along the same lines you write, John RD, it's the incandescent goodness and wisdom of God, revealed by Jesus Christ, breathed into our hungry souls by The Holy Spirit, that equips the Church to bear witness; a witness that has always transformed - on an unparalleled scale - and is well able to continue to lovingly transform, every sinful human situation, no matter how superior it considers itself to be.

Ever in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty


Dr Marty Rice | 22 November 2021  

Weep away, Marty! Sorry but your's are false, crocodile tears! Gerry's job was to report: a good reporter goes beyond her basic brief of sticking to the facts and offers a commentary and even a critique to a presumably intelligent and well-informed audience. With respect, but in all honesty, she hasn't done that but continued with a style and precious little content, which, especially at this crucial point for Australian Catholics, attempts to placate all sides and, my bet is, ends up doing neither. Gerry has stepped out of this carefully-constructed straight-jacket before when the female Anglican Archbishop of Perth was episcopally ordained, making great play, as she rightly ought to have, of the historic importance of the occasion of Dr Goldsworthy being anointed the first Female Archbishop of the Australian Anglican Communion. Not only did Gerry step into a punt to interview the archbishop, something she had never done elsewhere in approximately similar historic context, Gerry made a special and charming reference to Perth's Catholic Archbishop Tim Costelloe, who welcomed Archbishop Goldsworthy to her Cathedral. It remains to be seen if Archbishop Tim, in his role as Convenor of the Plenary Council, is equally gracious to claims of Catholic lay women.


Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

Dear Michael, many thanks for your response. As so often in your numerous posts, actuality escapes your attention. But, glory be to God, your meandering mind often touches on unrelated matters of alternative interest.

Kindly apologize, Michael: for full genuine are my sorrows over Geraldine's excision of King Jesus Christ from her mullings on our Plenary Council; and, her conclusion that Australia's Catholic Christians need to don a new skin (with any prophylactic allusions that might carry).

Ms. Doogue is a very charming and popular generalist (Australia's answer to Norman Vincent Peel ?) but seemingly uninformed by the non-negotiable substance of two millennia of Catholic Christ-following.

As regards the scandalous, virtual exclusion of women from major leadership roles in the Church - bearing in mind how our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles deeply depended on faith-filled women.

Paul writes they labored with him in evangelizing. Learned women such as Lydia and Prisca were of the highest importance (Prisca is one possible author of the book of Hebrews); together with so many other women leaders, great Saints, and Holy Martyrs. Please pray for us, you women of Christ!

Not only is women in leadership biblical; it is common sense! Just imagine if Mary Mackillop had been the Cardinal responsible for Australia.

Have a look at this YouTube clip of a family service in an Anglican church in Birmingham, UK - specifically observe the awesome ministry of women pastors. Note also Father Tim Hughes' power-under, servant leadership, like King Jesus Christ. A splendid role model for our seminarians.

Michael, I'm not about to join the Anglicans!
Am merely wondering if this godly ecclesiology could be distilled and anointed on every parish in Australia!

Worship For Everyone! | Gas Street Church - YouTube


Dr Marty Rice | 24 November 2021  

Better link for accessing video of instructive family service in UK:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHTCi_6W5vg


Dr Marty Rice | 25 November 2021  

Michael F. You request that I provide a response to the evidence regarding a genetic basis for homosexuality which I requested from Peter Johnstone and to which he characteristically didn't reply. You replied on his behalf. Let me refer you to the largest study ever undertaken on this controversial subject reported by the Scientific American at:
www. scientificamerican.com/article/massive-study-finds-no-single-genetic-cause-of-same-sex-sexual-behaviour.
This study, the largest ever undertaken involved 500,000.00 homosexual persons and found no evidence of a genetic (hereditary) cause in 75% to 92% of homosexuals. In the converse cohort of 8% to 25% no definite genetic association was found but it left open the possibility that in this minority group there remained the possibility that there may possibly a genetic component. This is a remarkable result in the light of the extraordinary ability modern science possesses in the electron microscope and the ability to alter abnormalities in genes though such technologies as the gene shears (developed by CSIRO). Science, to which Peter Johnstone appeals for justification of his opinion, still concedes (through numerous other studies) that environmental factors account for sexual orientation in the vast majority of cases (as they do in virtually every aspect of human life). Of course, I could be wrong but I should say that I have followed these studies with some interest over the years as a member by invitation of both the New York Academy of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, why? because I don't believe it matters a cus why someone is homosexual - all that matters is that such a person is accepted and respected for what he/ is a human being. When we live in a society defaced by rednecks the homosexual community might help itself considerably if it were to stop childishly screaming out its sexual preferences in the public domain thereby inviting abuse from the redneck element.


john frawley | 23 November 2021  
Show Responses

Thanks, John Frawley. Let us agree to disagree about the scientific bases of the causes of same-sex attraction because, while cultural or environmental causation may have more appeal to you (and for which I applaud your liberal attitude), your position depends on precisely your attitude and not on the kinds of objective evidence that only science provides and in the absence of which, whether gay people disclose or seclude their identity or not, still makes us (particularly minors) vulnerable to the prejudices of illiberal adults. Indeed, so long as we must rely on the cultural influence argument, there will still be well-intentioned conservative persons who insist that something as 'abnormative' as same-sex attraction be altered to obtain a more 'normative' gender identity. These persons include religious fundamentalists, for whom as biological essentialists, which many Natural Lawyers are, same-sex coupling constitutes a serious sin. Although not a scientist, I am reliably informed that there ARE epigenetic markers of homosexual orientation that would, in the longer run be more persuasive for those, unlike you, who are not inclined towards the Church's pastoral nurturing of GLBTIQ persons. There is, accordingly, a very obvious social justice issue here as well as a homophobic one.


Michael Furtado | 25 November 2021  

‘There is, accordingly, a very obvious social justice issue here as well as a homophobic one.’

The argument can be made that there is no issue except conformity with a ‘platonic’ ideal. When the flesh is deranged by the Fall, it doesn’t matter whether the impetus to derangement is psychology or biology/epigenetics. The flesh is deranged and the quantum of the derangement is the distance between it and the platonic ideal prescribed, even before the Garden was invented, for behaviours of the flesh.

That is why a dulling of the senses from whatever cause, pre- or post-natal, which causes psychopathy, is no answer to the platonic ideal or canonical duty that a person must have an attitude of charity.

Scripture tells us that the flesh cannot judge the spirit. This means that vagaries of the flesh cannot obviate duties of the spirit.


roy chen yee | 26 November 2021  

'When the flesh is deranged by the Fall'? There was no 'Fall' Roy; it's a myth, an origins story, put together by a tribe of wanderers, to explain what they experienced.


Ginger Meggs | 26 November 2021  

“‘When the flesh is deranged by the Fall'? There was no 'Fall'….”

You should look at the story retrospectively. You don’t justify everything else from Genesis. You justify Genesis from everything else because the Bible is a coherent whole. The Crucifixion would not have occurred without Sin. There would have been no Sin without the Fall.


It was reported a few years ago concerning discussion about how long US marines would be based in Darwin, that Barack Obama said that he wasn’t going to come all the way to Australia to sign an agreement with his good friend Gillard (being cut from the same social liberal cloth) for them to be based for six months. Exactly. You don’t make a grand gesture for peanuts, even for friends.


‘Sin’ is not ‘mistake’. There was a cosmic rift involving human mockery of God at some time in the past which created an inherited condition of sin, Original Sin, which could only be removed by the death of Christ for those who signalled by baptism that they accepted the necessity for his death to cleanse themselves. So, whatever this rift is, it’s a Fall.

As to whether you need to be baptised to be saved, the best the Church can do is say that God is merciful and wants everyone to be saved and there’s nothing he can’t do. OK, but at the end of the day, that’s diplomatic language of wishing others the best. The only practical thing the Church can do for non-Catholics is to say that baptisms in the other Christian denominations is valid.

Unlike the Catholic Church, Reformed Christians are more forthright about the necessity for salvation and, like them, Islam is adamant that if you’re not a Muslim, you’ll eventually have had it. So, given the example of convictions by others, for a Catholic to be wishy-washy about the Fall is to give off just the sort of craven signal that a dog weighing up in its mind whether to bite you needs in order to bite you.


roy chen yee | 29 November 2021  

It would be wonderful if the current Australian Catholic hierarchy took up Marty Rice's invitation for a radical spiritual transformation. I think he would have better aimed his homily at them rather than Geraldine. He should also remember that St Peter was a humble fisherman before his call, hence did not possess what they called 'eloquentia' in the Renaissance. Geraldine does and that is no fault on her part. She is no Sophist. She is not twisting anything to serve a dubious purpose. Neither is he, I hasten to add, but I think he needs to remember this Plenary Council was about procedural reform. The hierarchy don't seem to like that one bit. The late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, one of the most insightful thinkers of the Orthodox Church in the 20th Century, said Jesus did not come to found an institution per se but to change the world. The problem with the hierarchy is that they are so tied up with the bureaucratic side of things that they forget the bureaucracy exists to serve Jesus' message.


Edward Fido | 25 November 2021  
Show Responses

Dear Edward,

Nicely put. You are right. In the prevailing climate of Australian Catholicism, beloved Geraldine's is a sweet voice of decency and moderation.

Yet, seemingly uninformed by the clear instructions of Jesus Christ, do you too not partially misrepresent the Missio Dei, where you quote: "Jesus did not come to found an institution per se but to change the world."

The whole New Testament makes matters plain and is distilled in John 18:36-37. Christ has not been given to us to: "make the world a better place", though that might be a collateral effect of us joining His actual mission: "To witness to the truth, so as to separate those who are of truth from those who are obdurately not of truth."

Today, we know that what we've been shown of the Missio Dei is highly consonant with what science tells us about reality (see: 'Ethical Ontology Harmonizes Science and Revelation and Human Lives'; free online).

Basically, we are not here to win but to witness, like our eternal King, Jesus Christ. Imagining that winning is our call always subverts our participation in the Missio Dei. This error explains much of the chaos of Church history and of the current fraught situation.

Recent instructions given us by our Pope and by other eminent leaders, are worthy of repetition and of regular reading and discussion by all councilors and the many who want the Plenary Council to succeed.

The first thing that needs changing is us, individually and communally. We need a new Awakening of Faith in the Absolute Authority, Competence, and Benevolence of the Ever-Living Jesus Christ.

WITH JESUS CHRIST, EVERYTHING.
WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST, NOTHING.

From that flows a wave of Evangelization and Witness the aim of which is to offer non-believers an attractive option: to Repent, Turn to Jesus, and begin a New Life of ongoing Sanctification in Christ, with us.

This is the sacred means that God has given us to help make up the numbers of those who are invited to The Wedding Feast of The Lamb. The telos of our universe.

'Making the world a better place' is always and everywhere the intention of good people (not just Catholics) but it is a terrible deception to think it's our prerogative or, indeed. a Christian's main calling.

Doing good things is what we should do but never a substitute for our calling to Witness To The Truth.

BALTIMORE, Md. — While the Catholic Church’s position in the world has altered, its evangelistic mission: “Does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminded his fellow bishops Nov. 16 at their fall assembly.

“Again and again, Pope Francis reminds us: The Church exists to evangelize. There is no other reason for the Church. To be a Christian is to be a missionary disciple. There is no other definition,” said Archbishop Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The Church’s position in society has changed. We cannot count on numbers or our influence in society. None of that ever really mattered anyway,” he said. “We are here to save souls. And Jesus promised us that if we seek his Kingdom first, everything we need will be given to us.”

“What is the best way to help our people to live and work and minister as Catholics in this moment? How can we help our people to raise their children and engage with their neighbors and the culture? As a Church, how should we evangelize and go about the task of striving for justice and the renewal of our society?” Archbishop Gomez asked.

“Many of the differences that we see in the Church these days are rooted in the different points of view that we have over how the Church should answer these basic questions,” he said.

“There is a reason for this,” Archbishop Gomez continued. “It is because we are living in a moment when human society seems to be losing its ‘story.’”

Archbishop Gomez’s address touched on some of the same themes he raised in a speech he delivered by video Nov. 4 to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid, Spain. His remarks then sparked both praise and criticism for his critique of 'workerism' and other ideological social justice movements that he said run counter to the Church's understanding of humanity’s God-given dignity and freedom.

“For most of our history, the story that gave meaning to our lives was rooted in a biblical worldview and the values of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It was the story of the human person created in God's image and invested with an earthly vocation to build a society where people could live in freedom, with equality and dignity,” Archbishop Gomez said Tuesday.

“This story underwrote America's founding documents. It shaped the assumptions of our laws and institutions, it gave substance to our everyday ideals and actions,” he said.

“What we see all around us now, are signs that this narrative may be breaking down. This is one of the consequences of living in a secular society. We all need God to help us to make sense of our lives, so when we try to live without God, we can become confused,” he said.

“Many of our neighbors are searching. They are looking for a new story to give meaning to their lives, to tell them what they are living for and why,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“But my brothers (and sisters), our neighbors do not need a new story. What they need is to hear the true story — the beautiful story of Christ's love for us, his dying and rising from the dead for us, and the hope he brings to our lives.”

Archbishop Gomez began and ended his remarks by referring to an address given in 1889 by Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minn. titled: “The Mission of Catholics in America.”

“The next century of the life of the Church in America will be what we make it. … As we will it, so shall the story be. … There is so much at stake for God and souls, for Church and country!” said Ireland.

“The duty of the moment is to understand our responsibility, and to do the full work that heaven has allotted to us,” Ireland said. “With us it will be done, without us it will not be done.”

“Brothers (and sisters), two things strike me about this address,” Archbishop Gomez observed.

“First, Archbishop Ireland teaches that every Catholic shares responsibility for the Church's mission. Bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious & consecrated, and lay men and women — we are all baptized to be missionaries,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“Second, he understood that the Church’s purpose does not depend on forces outside the Church. It does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” he said.

“The Church’s mission is the same in every time and place,” Archbishop Gomez said:

“It is to proclaim Jesus Christ & to help every person to find him & to walk with Him.”


Dr Marty Rice | 26 November 2021  

Dear Edward,

Nicely put. You are right. In the prevailing climate of Australian Catholicism, beloved Geraldine's is a sweet voice of decency and moderation.

Yet, seemingly uninformed by the clear instructions of Jesus Christ, do you too not partially misrepresent the Missio Dei, where you quote: "Jesus did not come to found an institution per se but to change the world."

The whole New Testament makes matters plain and is distilled in John 18:36-37. Christ has not been given to us to: "make the world a better place", though that might be a collateral effect of us joining His actual mission: "To witness to the truth, so as to separate those who are of truth from those who are obdurately not of truth."

Today, we know that what we've been shown of the Missio Dei is highly consonant with what science tells us about reality (see: 'Ethical Ontology Harmonizes Science and Revelation and Human Lives'; free online).

Basically, we are not here to win but to witness, like our eternal King, Jesus Christ. Imagining that winning is our call always subverts our participation in the Missio Dei. This error explains much of the chaos of Church history and of the current fraught situation.

Recent instructions given us by our Pope and by other eminent leaders, are worthy of repetition and of regular reading and discussion by all councilors and the many who want the Plenary Council to succeed.

The first thing that needs changing is us, individually and communally. We need a new Awakening of Faith in the Absolute Authority, Competence, and Benevolence of the Ever-Living Jesus Christ.

WITH JESUS CHRIST, EVERYTHING.
WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST, NOTHING.

From that flows a wave of Evangelization and Witness the aim of which is to offer non-believers an attractive option: to Repent, Turn to Jesus, and begin a New Life of ongoing Sanctification in Christ, with us.

This is the sacred means that God has given us to help make up the numbers of those who are invited to The Wedding Feast of The Lamb. The telos of our universe.

'Making the world a better place' is always and everywhere the intention of good people (not just Catholics) but it is a terrible deception to think it's our prerogative or, indeed. a Christian's main calling.

Doing good things is what we should do but never a substitute for our calling to Witness To The Truth.

BALTIMORE, Md. — While the Catholic Church’s position in the world has altered, its evangelistic mission: “Does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminded his fellow bishops Nov. 16 at their fall assembly.

“Again and again, Pope Francis reminds us: The Church exists to evangelize. There is no other reason for the Church. To be a Christian is to be a missionary disciple. There is no other definition,” said Archbishop Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The Church’s position in society has changed. We cannot count on numbers or our influence in society. None of that ever really mattered anyway,” he said. “We are here to save souls. And Jesus promised us that if we seek his Kingdom first, everything we need will be given to us.”

“What is the best way to help our people to live and work and minister as Catholics in this moment? How can we help our people to raise their children and engage with their neighbors and the culture? As a Church, how should we evangelize and go about the task of striving for justice and the renewal of our society?” Archbishop Gomez asked.

“Many of the differences that we see in the Church these days are rooted in the different points of view that we have over how the Church should answer these basic questions,” he said.

“There is a reason for this,” Archbishop Gomez continued. “It is because we are living in a moment when human society seems to be losing its ‘story.’”

Archbishop Gomez’s address touched on some of the same themes he raised in a speech he delivered by video Nov. 4 to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid, Spain. His remarks then sparked both praise and criticism for his critique of 'workerism' and other ideological social justice movements that he said run counter to the Church's understanding of humanity’s God-given dignity and freedom.

“For most of our history, the story that gave meaning to our lives was rooted in a biblical worldview and the values of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It was the story of the human person created in God's image and invested with an earthly vocation to build a society where people could live in freedom, with equality and dignity,” Archbishop Gomez said Tuesday.

“This story underwrote America's founding documents. It shaped the assumptions of our laws and institutions, it gave substance to our everyday ideals and actions,” he said.

“What we see all around us now, are signs that this narrative may be breaking down. This is one of the consequences of living in a secular society. We all need God to help us to make sense of our lives, so when we try to live without God, we can become confused,” he said.

“Many of our neighbors are searching. They are looking for a new story to give meaning to their lives, to tell them what they are living for and why,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“But my brothers (and sisters), our neighbors do not need a new story. What they need is to hear the true story — the beautiful story of Christ's love for us, his dying and rising from the dead for us, and the hope he brings to our lives.”

Archbishop Gomez began and ended his remarks by referring to an address given in 1889 by Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minn. titled: “The Mission of Catholics in America.”

“The next century of the life of the Church in America will be what we make it. … As we will it, so shall the story be. … There is so much at stake for God and souls, for Church and country!” said Ireland.

“The duty of the moment is to understand our responsibility, and to do the full work that heaven has allotted to us,” Ireland said. “With us it will be done, without us it will not be done.”

“Brothers (and sisters), two things strike me about this address,” Archbishop Gomez observed.

“First, Archbishop Ireland teaches that every Catholic shares responsibility for the Church's mission. Bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious & consecrated, and lay men and women — we are all baptized to be missionaries,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“Second, he understood that the Church’s purpose does not depend on forces outside the Church. It does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” he said.

“The Church’s mission is the same in every time and place,” Archbishop Gomez said:

“It is to proclaim Jesus Christ & to help every person to find him & to walk with Him.”


Dr Marty Rice | 27 November 2021  

These are wise and peace-broking words, Edward. Thanks for them! In the end the Bishops, through the inspiration of the Great Paraclete, will have to broker a deal that sees beyond the fractures within Our Church so as to discern a 'doable' vision among many competing claims and rebuild a supporting structure that serves the Jesus of the Gospels. If one thinks of the struggle each one of us has to open ourselves to Him, such a task on a mammoth, Australia-wide scale will be forbidding indeed. For it will involve undoing some of the structural and cultural practices that once served the Australian Church well but which are now redundant and may even require reversing. The task, as Pope Francis says, it too onerous to be undertaken at Head Office Level, which is why he calls for a Synodal Church. Thank you especially for your Call to Compromise, without which the Bishops may be too overwhelmed by the task at hand to proceed with courage and determination. Our prayer might be, as beautifully expressed in Psalm 102, 'Domine, exaudi orationem meam, et clamor meus ad te veniat.' ('O Lord, Hear my Plea And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee!')


Michael Furtado | 28 November 2021  

Dear Edward,

Nicely put. You are right. In the prevailing climate of Australian Catholicism, beloved Geraldine's is a sweet voice of decency and moderation.

Yet, seemingly uninformed by the clear instructions of Jesus Christ, do you too not partially misrepresent the Missio Dei, where you quote: "Jesus did not come to found an institution per se but to change the world."

The whole New Testament makes matters plain and is distilled in John 18:36-37. Christ has not been given to us to: "make the world a better place", though that might be a collateral effect of us joining His actual mission: "To witness to the truth, so as to separate those who are of truth from those who are obdurately not of truth."

Today, we know that what we've been shown of the Missio Dei is highly consonant with what science tells us about reality (see: 'Ethical Ontology Harmonizes Science and Revelation and Human Lives'; free online).

Basically, we are not here to win but to witness, like our eternal King, Jesus Christ. Imagining that winning is our call always subverts our participation in the Missio Dei. This error explains much of the chaos of Church history and of the current fraught situation.

Recent instructions given us by our Pope and by other eminent leaders, are worthy of repetition and of regular reading and discussion by all councillors and the many who want the Plenary Council to succeed.

The first thing that needs changing is us, individually and communally. We need a new Awakening of Faith in the Absolute Authority, Competence, and Benevolence of the Ever-Living Jesus Christ.

WITH JESUS CHRIST, EVERYTHING.
WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST, NOTHING.

From that flows a wave of Evangelization and Witness the aim of which is to offer non-believers an attractive option: to Repent, Turn to Jesus, and begin a New Life of ongoing Sanctification in Christ, with us.

This is the sacred means that God has given us to help make up the numbers of those who are invited to The Wedding Feast of The Lamb. The telos of our universe.

'Making the world a better place' is always and everywhere the intention of good people (not just Catholics) but it is a terrible deception to think it's our prerogative or, indeed. a Christian's main calling.

Doing good things is what we should do but never a substitute for our calling to Witness To The Truth.

BALTIMORE, Md. — While the Catholic Church’s position in the world has altered, its evangelistic mission: “Does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminded his fellow bishops Nov. 16 at their fall assembly.

“Again and again, Pope Francis reminds us: The Church exists to evangelize. There is no other reason for the Church. To be a Christian is to be a missionary disciple. There is no other definition,” said Archbishop Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The Church’s position in society has changed. We cannot count on numbers or our influence in society. None of that ever really mattered anyway,” he said. “We are here to save souls. And Jesus promised us that if we seek his Kingdom first, everything we need will be given to us.”

“What is the best way to help our people to live and work and minister as Catholics in this moment? How can we help our people to raise their children and engage with their neighbors and the culture? As a Church, how should we evangelize and go about the task of striving for justice and the renewal of our society?” Archbishop Gomez asked.

“Many of the differences that we see in the Church these days are rooted in the different points of view that we have over how the Church should answer these basic questions,” he said.

“There is a reason for this,” Archbishop Gomez continued. “It is because we are living in a moment when human society seems to be losing its ‘story.’”

Archbishop Gomez’s address touched on some of the same themes he raised in a speech he delivered by video Nov. 4 to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid, Spain. His remarks then sparked both praise and criticism for his critique of 'workerism' and other ideological social justice movements that he said run counter to the Church's understanding of humanity’s God-given dignity and freedom.

“For most of our history, the story that gave meaning to our lives was rooted in a biblical worldview and the values of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It was the story of the human person created in God's image and invested with an earthly vocation to build a society where people could live in freedom, with equality and dignity,” Archbishop Gomez said Tuesday.

“This story underwrote America's founding documents. It shaped the assumptions of our laws and institutions, it gave substance to our everyday ideals and actions,” he said.

“What we see all around us now, are signs that this narrative may be breaking down. This is one of the consequences of living in a secular society. We all need God to help us to make sense of our lives, so when we try to live without God, we can become confused,” he said.

“Many of our neighbors are searching. They are looking for a new story to give meaning to their lives, to tell them what they are living for and why,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“But my brothers (and sisters), our neighbors do not need a new story. What they need is to hear the true story — the beautiful story of Christ's love for us, his dying and rising from the dead for us, and the hope he brings to our lives.”

Archbishop Gomez began and ended his remarks by referring to an address given in 1889 by Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minn. titled: “The Mission of Catholics in America.”

“The next century of the life of the Church in America will be what we make it. … As we will it, so shall the story be. … There is so much at stake for God and souls, for Church and country!” said Ireland.

“The duty of the moment is to understand our responsibility, and to do the full work that heaven has allotted to us,” Ireland said. “With us it will be done, without us it will not be done.”

“Brothers (and sisters), two things strike me about this address,” Archbishop Gomez observed.

“First, Archbishop Ireland teaches that every Catholic shares responsibility for the Church's mission. Bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious & consecrated, and lay men and women — we are all baptized to be missionaries,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“Second, he understood that the Church’s purpose does not depend on forces outside the Church. It does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” he said.

“The Church’s mission is the same in every time and place,” Archbishop Gomez said:

“It is to proclaim Jesus Christ & to help every person to find him & to walk with Him.”


Dr Marty Rice | 29 November 2021  

"For most of our history, the story that gave meaning to our lives was rooted in a biblical worldview and the values of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It was the story of the human person created in God's image and invested with an earthly vocation to build a society where people could live in freedom, with equality and dignity,” Really? Doesn't the mass-murder caused by Christian Spain, the slave trade facilitated by Christian England, the rape of Africa by Christian Europe, the despoliation of its colonial subjects by the Christian British Empire, the slave-based economy of half of the Christian United States, and so on, count in the Archbishop's assessment?


Ginger Meggs | 30 November 2021  

Michael F. Regardless of whether or not you accept the scientific facts it really doesn't matter much what determines a person's sexual orientation. What really matters is that such persons are accepted as human beings entitled to the same privileges as all others. My disagreement is with people like some modern day church reformers who choose to back up a personal opinion with selective, often out of context quotes that ignore the scientific fact but, appear to support their position. Although it may ruffle the ego, we all have to accept truths that may not conform with what we choose in our superior wisdom to be the real truth. I am sure, Michael, that it doesn't matter to you what my orientation may be, just as yours does not matter to me. We have equal status in the Creator's eyes and should mutually accept that rather than be conflicted by our individual viewpoints. This is very much my position on most things as you might recognise in my critiques of the modern day reformers who expound their opinions serving their own aggrandisement by pointing out to God where he got it wrong for his Church and demanding he listen to them and do as they say - after all they are presidents, founders or members of fancy titled institutes which they themselves have created - so therefore, we should all sit down and be quite while they get on with the urgent need of downsizing God himself.


john frawley | 26 November 2021  
Show Responses

Thanks, John Frawley. And my view is that you are right about the narcissism innate in ALL of us that inclines towards placing ourselves before others. You will notice that I concede this and, more to the point, ferociously defend this view when it comes to others who are sidelined or disparaged in these columns, not just the sexually wounded and in pain. Granted then that you have the good sense and the good grace to step out of the way and not allow your opinions to interfere with the relationship each and everyone of us has with our God, there is another sense in which God's immensity is such that the concept of God can blind us, albeit temporarily, though sometimes often, depending on what's happening in our lives at any one time, and in respect of which we cannot know God or feel ourselves in God's presence without our interacting with one another. Thus, one vital link that the Jesuits have always provided for me, and many other people, oppressed and struggling with our identities, is the notion of a horizontal God, who invites the Church and All Creation to collaborate in 'breaking the lock' on the Tabernacle. After all, isn't THAT one of the reasons we meet on ES?


Michael Furtado | 28 November 2021  

MF, "'breaking the lock' on the Tabernacle," as employed in you reply to jf, seems to me a unhelpful and possibly misleading metaphorical device, echoing as it does arcane, doctrinally dubious expressions of devotion, on the one hand, and anti-Catholic polemics that deny the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, on the other. The Catholic relationship one has with God is mediated through the Church, the Christ-based sacrament of God's presence in the world that has both 'horizontal' and 'vertical' dimensions (cf. CCC 774-776). The Church is not just 'my' Church, just as God is not just 'my' God, nor are its official teachings on faith and morals just matters of opinion: they are truths that shape the identity, individually and communally, of those who who accept and live by them.


John RD | 29 November 2021  

‘sexually wounded and in pain’

Dramatic verbiage to make an analogy? People in hospitals with wounds don’t ask the doctors to preserve them as sanctified stigmata, which is what wanting the Church to normalise any 'painful' nonnormative sexual inclination amounts to. People in hospital with wounds want them to go away. If people with sexual wounds want them to go away, they’d be lucky to find a psychologist who isn’t worried about being censured by the psychological association, the health department, and doxers on social media.


‘God's immensity is such that the concept of God can blind us’


I think Adam Smith figured this one out. If you mind your own business and do it according to the rules of morality, society, magically, will work. If you mind your own spiritual business and follow the Magisterium, the Church-on-Earth, magically, will work.


‘'breaking the lock' on the Tabernacle’


By psychokinesis? Like the nuns trying to consecrate the elements at St Iggy’s from the ‘horizontal’? Those Keys are there for a reason. Locks aren't meant to be broken.


roy chen yee | 30 November 2021  

Dear Roy,

Some helpful points and rational Catholic analysis: as we have come to rely upon from you.

Yet, mightn't the need to confront endlessly mischievous interventions be dragged out until Doomsday . . ?

The Apostle of Love found a shortcut: Test the motivating spirit in the stirrer. Do they firmly believe and witness that Jesus Christ alone is the fullness of God having appeared among us, once-and-for-all, to teach us the truth, and the way to life eternal.

Disputants who have any other allegiance are not one of us. They are still in their sins, without The Holy Spirit, and are subject to final judgement.

This type of controversialist is in need of primary evangelization, as much as any pagan. BEFORE we engage in helping them resolve their cognitive dissonances re: our Catholic Christianity, we need to lovingly lead them to an exclusive faith in King Jesus Christ (IF, the are willing!),

The Gospels show Jesus being bombarded with curly questions from men predetermined not to accept or obey His unique Divinity. Of numerous Pharisees, only Nicodemus (&, perhaps, Gamaliel) realized disputation was misplaced, recognized who Jesus is, and made Christian submission.

If our faithful witnessing to Christ keeps running off, like water-off-a-duck's-back, we should avoid entanglement, and rely on praying and interceding for the salvation of the stirrer's soul.

Take care, Roy.

In the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty




Dr Marty Rice | 30 November 2021  

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