Malcolm Turnbull's blinding clarity

From the beginning the political events of the last week claimed my attention; there seemed to be a special significance for me as a reformer and a Catholic priest. Then when the description of the party as a 'broad church' was wheeled out again and the prominence of certain notable conservative Catholic politicians came into focus, I concentrated my attention.

I began to see similar dynamics at work within both institutions, the Liberal Party and the Catholic Church. The disintegration of the Liberal Party under Malcolm Turnbull is rooted in the internal mixture of conservative and liberal attitudes among the members.

Faced with the earth-shattering challenge that climate change poses one should anticipate different responses from those who position themselves differently along the continuum that stretches from a more fear-based lifestyle to one based more on trust and providence.

The challenges posed by climate change demand that all of us, both as individuals and as a society, die to some of our precious and basic beliefs and behaviours. There is no way we can hope to enter this new world using the same coordinates that we have used navigating the past.

There is no solution to the upheaval involved short of an explosion. To try to 'hold the lid on' is to choose a pathway of denial, avoidance and inaction.

Turnbull has forced his party to a position where they must see there is no way forward without serious internal reform. Maybe he will not be able to lead them on but at least they owe him for the move from illusion towards reality. While lesser members seem blinded by seemingly irrational caution, Turnbull has called the game with a blinding clarity.

Against this background I'm asking myself what is the ETS equivalent within the Church. Does it have a Turnbull equivalent to call the game and bring it face to face with the obvious challenges that invite it to move forward? Where are those tensions between conservative and liberal pulsing within the Church?

The fact that some of the key individuals are playing the same kind of game in both the political and the ecclesiastical realm helps us track this particular dynamic.

May I suggest that the present crisis faced by the Liberal Party, while having similarities with that faced by the Church, is insignificant in comparison. How will the Church take its equivalent journey? There will be heaps to learn from following the way the Liberal Party and their associates negotiate this current Damascus journey.

John Ryan is an author and priest of the Cathoic Diocese of Sandhurst in Victoria. For most of his pristly life he has been based in Canberra and involved nationally with educational programmes particularly for Catholic priests. His special concern is the relationship between human develeopment and christian spirituality.

Topic tags: malcolm turnbull, liberal party, tension, ets, cprs, joe hockey, tony abbott



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Existing comments

I too feel that the church is at a crossroad, plagued by the comfortable rules we have had for hndreds of years, and oh! how hard it is to change, especially in religious matters.

To tell people what to do, is an insult, I feel, to our capacities as a human being.
Ths could be one of the big stumbling blocks our young people are encountering. Perhaps inclusion and sharing opinions ,may be more productive.

I do not mean to denigrate the words of Jesus, or the 10 Commandments, but expanding on these words of revelation, and digging deeper into the real message, which is ever growing and developing,could helps us all feel we really belong to an amazing Faith.

I admire Malcolm Turnbull for having the strength of his convictions.
Bernie Introna | 01 December 2009

Forgive Malcolm, for he knows not what he is doing.
Peter Flood | 01 December 2009


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