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  • More than strawberry on the cake: A call for greater gender equity

More than strawberry on the cake: A call for greater gender equity



It’s good news to see women being appointed to significant roles within the Catholic Church, including several recent appointments of women to important positions in the Holy See. In early November Pope Francis appointed Sr Raffaella Petrini as secretary-general of the Vatican’s governorate. This followed the earlier appointments of Sr Nathalie Becquart as an undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, Sr Alessandra Smerilli as the interim secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Barbara Jatta as director of the Vatican Museums.

It’s good news to see women being appointed to significant roles within the Catholic Church, including several recent appointments of women to important positions in the Holy See.

In early November Pope Francis appointed Sr Raffaella Petrini as secretary-general of the Vatican’s governorate. This followed the earlier appointments of Sr Nathalie Becquart as an undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, Sr Alessandra Smerilli as the interim secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Barbara Jatta as director of the Vatican Museums.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference also has five women Executive Secretaries in the six available positions. Alison Burt, Louise Zavone, Clara Geoghan, Lana Turvey-Collins and Jacinta Collins support the Bishops Commissions for Christian Unity and Inter-religious Dialogue, Catholic Education, Social Justice, Mission and Service, Plenary Council and more. Indeed, the Plenary Council’s preparation document points out: ‘In recent years, many women have taken up senior management roles in dioceses and Catholic agencies’.

So, why then are women in the Catholic Church in Australia and abroad still calling for women to be included in church leadership? Isn’t it enough to ‘add women and stir?’ Or is something more than one ingredient or one action needed to overturn the embedded unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunity between men and women in the Catholic Church?

One of the major issues is that the teachings of the Catholic Church on women are conflicted. Pope Francis wrote in Fratelli Tutti that ‘it is unacceptable that some have fewer rights by virtue of being women’ and the Catholic Catechism claims that ‘Man and woman … have the same dignity and are of equal value’.


'What we need is greater authority for parish and diocesan councils. We need national councils of the laity and international synods of the People of God where lay representatives become part of the church’s decision-making.'


At the same time, however, women are described as complementary rather than equal. As Catherine Lacugna explained in 1992, the ‘theology of complementarity extrapolates from bodily differences an inbuilt dissimilarity in roles’ claiming woman's role is private and domestic with man's role as public leadership and headship.

In the current structure, all roles assigned to women are subject to the authority of men. To address this inequality, I propose that the Catholic Church must first redefine its theology of the human person, use inclusive language, expand the language used for God, and maximise its use of alternative decision-making structures.

The dualisms of Greek philosophy which undergird a rigid doctrinal system and individual dogmas developed and defended by the Roman Catholic Church, sees nature as well as women as something to be dominated. Pope Francis has called for a new theology of women, but rather r than develop something separate for women, it’s time to re-envision a theology of the human person as part of the community of creation. The devastating consequences of patriarchy cannot be fully addressed until theology shifts from dualistic, hierarchical, and atomistic categories to holistic, communal, and relational ones.

Exclusive language is defined as a consistent pattern of English usage where the male is taken to be the normative human person; that is, the word ‘man’ connotes both the male and the human. Gender-inclusive language is language that strives to include both sexes equally. Exclusive language discriminates against people and make them feel inferior, especially if they are different because of their race, religion, gender, education or if they have a disability. Exclusive language also affects men as it conveys a false sense of superiority.

The Scriptures speaks of God in generic pronouns that — in Hebrew and Greek — have no sexual implications whatever. Rich scriptural images provide a wide range of personal metaphors, male and female, to convey God’s relationship to created beings. Unfortunately, the overuse of ‘Lord’ and ‘Father’ to name God exaggerates the importance of maleness and has given the impression that maleness is more Godlike.

Currently the Catholic Church relies almost totally on priests and bishops in parishes, dioceses, conferences and synods, to make all the important decisions. The failures of this hierarchical approach have been detailed by the Royal Commission into Sexual Abuse. It urged the church to ‘explore and develop ways in which its structure and practices of governance may be made more accountable, more transparent, more meaningfully consultative and more participatory, including at the diocesan and parish level.’

What we need is greater authority for parish and diocesan councils. We need national councils of the laity and international synods of the People of God where lay representatives become part of the church’s decision-making.

In 2014 Pope Francis highlighted his appointment of several women to the International Theological Commission, saying they ‘are the strawberry on the cake, but we want more.’

While we do celebrate the talented, capable women who take up roles within the Church, the quest for gender equity is much more than a strawberry on the cake, it’s a whole new recipe.


Andrea Dean is chair of Women and the Australian Church (WATAC).

Main image: Sr Raffaella Petrini and Pope Francis (Vatican media)

Topic tags: Andrea Dean, women, leadership, Vatican, Catholic Church



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It is interesting that two of the three women you mention as being appointed to high position in the Vatican are nuns, Andrea. Nuns were often seen to be both invisible and sexless by the hierarchy of the Church. What an absolute travesty! Priests in the Latin Rite were basically required to be sexless. What utter lunacy! The Society of Friends (Quakers) have always held to the belief that men and women were absolutely equal. Elizabeth Fry, the great English prison reformer was a married woman. If the Latin Rite allowed married clergy, as does Eastern Rite Catholicism, it would change things. The Catholic Church is overburdened with administrators and committees. Why would any sane woman or man want to join one?

Edward Fido | 18 November 2021  
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Bravo, Don Eduardo!
For once your theology and reasoning
Are unassailably 'fidelissimo'!
Humbly acknowledged
And applauded, In good faith,
Compadre Miguelito ;)

Michael Furtado | 19 November 2021  

‘redefine its theology….’ The elephant in the bonnet is that Jesus is male. The mammoth in the bonnet is that Jesus said, ‘Abba.’ Pachyderms, by and large, are kindly, equable creatures, which may explain why they put up with the third member of the bonnet being a bee.

roy chen yee | 18 November 2021  

“Unfortunately, the overuse of ‘Lord’ and ‘Father’ to name God exaggerates the importance of maleness and has given the impression that maleness is more Godlike”…..Having once again reflected on the problem of creating an inclusive Priesthood/Church I have concluded that it will not be resolved until the authoritarianism and elitism that is embedded within Clericalism, which emanates from an abuse of this teaching given by Jesus Christ, is confronted.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”

Jesus appears to be conveying that His disciples do not take honor to themselves, which did not belong to them; nor even choose to be called by such names, as would lead people to entertain too high an opinion of them, and take off of their dependence on God the Father, and Himself, as these titles the Scribes and Pharisees loved to be called by, rather look to the mandate given at the last supper, to those who would lead in His name’

In the world, we see the Media pedestalizing celebrities, etc, and then for some unfortunates demonize them, as it is good for business so to say. This same ploy is used on many who sincerely follow Jesus Christ and what a better target than Priests, Religious and sincere Christians. Not all those who treat “father” as a celebrity do so with a Christian heart, rather quite the opposite as this feigned pedestalization comes in different disguises. Please consider continuing via the link
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 18 November 2021  

Excellent article Andrea but sadly our Church hierarchy are, in the main not widely educated, deep thinkers, preferring to follow old ways, fearful that stepping away from a hierarchical male leadership would bring anarchy. In reality, their approach will instead lead to the slow decline, to obliteration, of the Catholic Church. Thankfully many Australian women have already navigated to safe spiritual ports and no longer need a traditional church parish with often old, depressed parish priests who resent their parishioners.

Carol | 19 November 2021  

The adoption of the late University of Notre Dame systematic theologian Catherine LaCugna's classically protestant discounting of the ability and relevance of reason - particularly Hellenic - to attaining knowledge of God leads WATC Chair Andrea Dean to the assertion that the Roman Catholic Church "sees nature as well as women as something to be dominated." I would note that respect for nature - both physical and anthropological - is abundantly evident in Catholic ecology and sacramentology, as well as moral and social teaching; and also that the Church's respect for women provided contest and alternatives to the prevailing mores of the pagan world in which Christianity took root, contributing significantly to the growth of the new faith among its many rivals.

John RD | 19 November 2021  
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JohnRD misconstrues Catherine LaCugna's theology as 'protestant'. LaCugna's seminal work on the Trinity, while described by some as Barthian, has come under criticism for 'panentheism' from fundamentalist Evangelical forces, such as Michael O'Neil's, of the Vose Theological Seminary in Perth, but denied by others who were her students and colleagues at Notre Dame before her premature death in 1992. Barth, an illustrious Lutheran theologian, who is responsible for bringing Bonhoeffer's spectacular Christian witness to post-War Catholic attention, was a great friend and close confrere of the Catholic theologian, Hans Kung. While professing unswerving support for Catholic doctrine on Mary, they both influenced the critique of Mariolatry undertaken during Vatican II and which had disgracefully been employed to shackle women into the patriarchal docility that Andrea Dean so painstakingly and eloquently explains in her article above. John's comment should be read as typical of his many fundamentalist broadsides in ES, consistently advancing revelation over reason, when both go hand in hand, and, in this instance, launched against WATAC's high quality 20-year long service to ALL Australian Catholics, stymied by Bishops too pusillanimous to report on lay aspirations, and content only with cosmetic appointments based on PR value, though lacking fundamental change.

Michael Furtado | 19 November 2021  

I am not aware of the criticism by Michael O'Neil of Catherine LaCugna's theology, but I am familiar with the following passage from theologian Charles Raith's article "Ressourcing the Fathers" in the International Journal of Sytematic Theology (Volume 10, Number 3, July 2008) where in his conclusion the author says: "LaCugna attempts to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity on a strictly historical basis [i.e., the economic Trinity]. The modern quest of the search for the historical Jesus becomes in LaCugna's work the search for the historical Trinity; just as she dismisses the differentiation between speculation on the pre-incarnate Logos and the incarnate Christ, so LaCugna rejects any thinking about the Trinity [i.e., the immanent Trinity] outside of the economy." The Catholic theological tradition includes consideration of both the Trinity in itself and in its external operations.

John RD | 21 November 2021  

A nit-picking quibble, intended to discredit one of the most able and widely admired of Catholic feminist theologians.

I admire your knowledge, John, but you must stop putting your knowledge at the service of no change. Its what the sophists did. I was trained in this practice and learned to ditch it once I became aware of how profoundly disabling and didactic it was.

Why would you not want to explore where this conversation takes us? That wouldn't debar you from informing or correcting or refining what is posted, but it would certainly add value to the overall result.

Why can't both of us do this? For my part I have consciously tried not to belittle but affirm, adding to the sum total of the common good that I see emerging from these exchanges.

I do this especially when responding to Edward's posts. He, in turn, responds positively, characteristically without feeling spurned or retaliative.

Why can't you do that, instead of egging on one other whose clear purpose on this site is to oppose and disrupt without regard for the common good elements that hallmark ES's topic choices?

Is it your passive aggression towards them? How better to achieve this?

Michael Furtado | 13 February 2022  

I strive to practise communication, MF, (13/2), that puts knowledge of a sound and relevant kind from reliable sources at the service of constructive change, thereby advancing the Church's mission to announce and incarnate Christ's Gospel.
One difficulty of mine with your style in ES over the years has been the stridency and often inappropriately personal nature of its tone, and the caricatured misrepresentation of ideas you oppose.
I have, however, observed of late - and appreciated -your attempts to modify the tonal aspect (in accord with your own New year's resolution expressed elsewhere) - though I do think you overestimate, as I've said before, my influence in this forum; especially on "one other" - could that be Roy? - who you assert, wrongly, I say, has a "clear purpose on this site to oppose and disrupt, etc. . ." A view that happily does not appear to be shared by ES editors who continue to publish his many contributions, including ones you evidently find provocative and unacceptable.
Another difficulty, which should be clear by now, is to do with the nature of revelation and basis of authority in the Catholic Church (not, please note, only its exercise - on which, in some cases, we could well be in agreement).
Finally for now, I believe "conversation" is, at very least, impeded, when due clarity of basic terminology is not established. If you find my style too "measured", or even pedantic, it's employed in the interests of attaining the "common good" necessary for social and redemptive flourishing that I understand a magazine like Eureka Street seeks to promote.

John RD | 17 February 2022  

Thanks, John. Your response raises a more far-reaching concern than that of my New Year's resolution. I am undoubtedly hot-tempered but also availing. My remarks here, like those of others, are inflected by experience. Contemporary discursive writing is both less 'prescribed' as well as less 'proscribed' than it used to be, since the literary canon determining such practices was abandoned years ago. While ES is a Jesuit magazine its focus isn't theological but ranges across the world of ethics, politics and the liberal arts. In that sense, your focus on theology sieved through the net of orthodoxy (when the topic commands a wider and more open-ended exploration) is both puzzling and worryingly restrictive. Additionally, when debates about race and gender feature, even though the Catholic and Jesuit positions on these are known, your neutrality deafens. This pattern hardly commends a contributor whose sources lie in defense of the Catholic teaching, which includes aspects of both doctrine and morality. Thus, and unlike you, I detect no chide on ES' behalf when they publish your, my and Roy's views, which simply reflect the Jesuit commitment to informed discussion and fairness. Nor do I believe that ES' aim is to defend the magisterium.

Michael Furtado | 23 February 2022  

Quel horreur, MF, that a Catholic contributor (one , actually, who has been criticized frequently and roundly for his views on your evidently favourite topics of gender and race) should focus on theology and the Church's magisterium, especially when scant, if any, atttention is paid to them in comments in a by many ES contributors!
It's news to me, too, that clarity has been abandoned as a requirement of "discursive writing". This innovation could only, I suspect, have been introduced by exponents and promoters of that obfuscating postmodern style that deliberately subverts logic and grammar in order to make of incoherence a political statement. For Exhibit A, let's take, say, Foucault and Butler, whose works you've commended (and, dare I say, whose style you've imitated) in several of our extended exchanges.
Finally (for now), I'm not aware that the Church or the Jesuits, much as you might wish they would, have given the 'all clear' to Critical Theory and invested with magisterial status its place in Catholic moral and social teaching. That some of your preferred ideological mentors may have done so, or at least seek to do so, is, of course, another story.
(Sorry this response is tardy, but I discovered your 23/2 post only this morning, being busy with other things.)

John RD | 11 March 2022  

Re. your's of 11/3: a pity you reduced the human complexity to the caricature you make of me. Your agnosticism on matters of race and policy justice is palpably not supported by the articles in this magazine.

My main concern is your interpretation of Logos. While Logos and Mythos are related, you and Roy are trapped within this mutually-excluding binary.

Like your's, every post of Roy's proclaims a distortion promoting this binary, e.g. Roy consistently interprets scripture and the canon with a literalism unsupported by those who publish here. When Roy stumbles, you come to his rescue.

Atheism has reacted to this at the opposite extreme. Contemporary Catholicism recognises this and positions itself between fundamentalists and C20th atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris), while recognising that earlier atheisms (Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsce, Marx, Freud) were similarly parasitically dependent on equally historically-limited and discarded forms of theism or belief. You and Roy dogmatically and 'apologetically' refuse to acknowledge this truth!

Hence you and Roy consistently fail to understand that you jointly weaken the very tradition that you seek to defend! Your Thomist reductionism, like atheists', is disappointingly shallow and fails to acknowledge a transcendent God! Hence, ES simply exposes the stultified positions you defend!

Michael Furtado | 17 March 2022  

Contrary to your assertion, MF, (17/3) I do, in fact, recognize the relationship between Logos and Mythos. Alistair MacIntyre's "After Virtue", particularly in its discussion of "telos", is more than a handy reference on the subject. What I do not accept is the postmodern disconnection of the two whereby narrative is uprooted from Logos, permitting a substitution of imaginative invention for reasoning - as evident in the often incoherent style that postures as intelligence adopted by leading figures of the postmodern academy for whom fanciful self-invention overrides respect for, discovery, and affirmation of the real.
Aquinas' attention to Logos (particularly the relationship between word and truth) is embedded in the historically decisive event and story of the West's engagement with hitherto unavailable Aristotelian texts; and, as his devotional writings show, in the liturgical experience and narrative of the Catholic Church: both highly fertile soil for intellectual and spiritual flourishing.
Is it possible that your real antipathy to the recognition of "binaries" is the refusal to collapse or fudge basic anthropological, social and moral opposites, and discourse that would maintain their traditional understanding and definition (e.g., male/female; virtue/vice; good/evil)?
And might it not be that your often demonstrated discounting of metaphysics and its contemporary relevance is reflective of a binary disjoining of philosophy and faith that is uncharacteristic of the Catholic synthesis of the two?

John RD | 22 March 2022  

JRD reverts to repetitive assertions (2/3) to stymie breakthrough possibilities. His initial epistemological problem lies within his definition of God and contemporary humanity's continuing search for God.

His certainties enslave: his prejudices revealing in his archaic binarialism, for the most part dependent on the views and life experience of a C12th teleological re-cycler, inadequate entelechy.

This lazy unoriginal work, shackling Christ to Aristotle, downplays the contributions of developmental Thomists, whom he regards as heretical.

This reveals his second mistake, which is to confuse faith with fervour, 'unreasonably' collapsing religiosity with blind faith, impervious to developmental insights to address new contingencies unheard of and certainly beyond the global scope of Aquinas' canon.

Among these are Thomas' views on women, whom he doubted were ensouled. Only a primitive mindset would subscribe to such a view today, which is why Critical Thomism, founded within Thomist principles and applied to contemporary exigencies in the centuries since (and not just in the postmodern period) has flourishingly emerged.

The third mistake JRD makes is to assume that all philosophic ideas developed since Aquinas are uncritical of oppositional philosophies.

These crude oversimplifications may hold sway within dark corners of the fundamentalist academy but enjoy no currency elsewhere.

Michael Furtado | 30 March 2022  

It might be beneficial if Michael Furtado (30/3) were to be specific about what he means by his assertion of "the epistemological problem" that "lies within [my] definition of God." And also, beyond the historicist gibe "C12th teleological re-cycler", what it is that makes him deem Aquinas' entelechy "inadequate".
Further, mere expression of applause for "Critical Thomism" is hardly sufficient to establish either its consistency with recognised Thomistic thinking or the Church's official teaching; nor, for that matter, its "flourishingly" emergent status in Catholic theology.

John RD | 03 April 2022  

Let's hope that the chosen female executives have been chosen because of their expertise not their gender. To assign expertise on the basis of gender is clearly an inanity. Those who clamour for gender equality in all things should be cautious in their aspirations. Equality does not exist within gender itself - some writers are better than others, some have more skills than others, some are sillier than others etc. - through no fault of their own. Its the diversity God has created. Why did he do it? I don't know for sure but I think it has to do with the ongoing creation of what he considers his greatest creation. We have a lot going for us when the Creator considers us superior to the many incredible wonders in the world around us. But one thing I think I do know is that our fiddling is not going to change things. Interesting that in this nation which seems to think that playing games is all that matters in life [whether in parliament or on the sporting arenas], the nation is in a frenzy over the inclusion of women in male contact sports like AFL and rugby - particularly the league variety. Just imagine the ethos of the women who embrace the culture of rugby league - to really fit in they will have to start brawling in the pubs after a game, getting leglessly drunk, sexually assaulting the odd young male supporter, and then going home to abuse and belt the daylights out of their husbands (sorry, partners). But worse, erstwhile beautiful young women will have to cover themselves in hideous tatoos.

john frawley | 19 November 2021  
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Those who clamour for gender equality in all things should be cautious in their aspirations. Equality does not exist within gender itself

Most countries in the world are goverened by male leaders - as is the Catholic Church - hardly ''equailty does not exist with gender itsef!'

Helen Oxenburgh-Lowe | 19 November 2021  

An ambivalent remark, Helen, neither here nor there in determining where you stand on this important question.

As it happens most Boards of Directors and those in leadership positions across the developed world include many more women than they ever used to.

There have been several European, Asian and Latin American Presidents and Prime Ministers. While you sound disheartened, now is surely not the time to sit back and take stock!

Michael Furtado | 13 February 2022  

Oops; my penultimate sentence of 13/2 should have included the word 'women' in context. Mea culpa!

Michael Furtado | 23 February 2022  

Surely, John Frawley, the ('common') good sense you demonstrate in regard to the vaccination question shouldn't be set aside when you choose to entertain by exaggeration, as in your Nov 19 post. The persons who are belted at home, and not just in the amusingly sexist manner in which you portray it, are overwhelmingly female, to the point that one of them is killed every week in Australia. Tattoos, in contemporary context and by comparison, are surely no more uncouth and unnecessary than the florid vestments that cloak - and stymie! - our already put upon and overburdened male clergy and hierarchy, especially when your and my maleness as well as the person of a priest or bishop is categorically not- nor ever should be - the focus of our veneration. One is forced to ask yet again of such an esteemed and engaged colleague and medical doctor, where is your response to the question you put to Peter Johnstone about the need for scientific proof that homosexual inclination is biologically determined and not culturally acquired? I replied to this in ES in the same blog that you asked your question and still await a response (ES, Nov 11, 2021).

Michael Furtado | 22 November 2021  

‘Tattoos, in contemporary context and by comparison, are surely no more uncouth and unnecessary than the florid vestments that cloak - and stymie! -….’

Clerical vestments, like judicial robes, ‘anonymise’ the wearer so who the person is when performing the role is not important, only the ethical values of the office which performs the role.

A tattoo, like a contraceptive pill, is invading tissue with a foreign chemical. If the body, like the body politic, is healthy, you shouldn’t overgovern it. One might even say that when the mind, or vagaries of the mind, overgoverns the body, one element of the person is being used to breach the subsidiarity of another, the body consisting of physical elements of moral value carefully assembled by its creator.

Presumably that is why the hyperbole exists that if your eye offends your spirit, you should pluck it out.

roy chen yee | 27 November 2021  

JRD, Back to usurping John the Evangelist to support your immobilist cause! The question we address isn't about Catherine LaCugna's view of the historicity of the Trinity, nor even of those who attacked her, nor, yet again, about the Logos - not, at least, in terms of the Greek formulation in which you express comfort in restricting it, but about a model of Christian evangelisation or missiology that incorporates justice rather than stagnancy. 'No peace without justice', said Pope Paul VI (International Day of Peace, 1972) urging us all onto a future that forces open all questions of New Knowledge of the kind that our most recent illustrious convert, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, consistently addresses. Our Catholic Church, while maintaining fidelity with the past, must also be open to New Knowledge, rather than shut itself off like a hermit crab under siege. Both evangelisation as well as justice are two parts of Christ's seamless shroud that can never be rent apart. I observe nothing in Andrea Dean's colloquy that offends against that. Where, instead, is your response to the seminal WATAC Report, 'Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus' (April, 1999!) associated with her? Why don't the Bishops respond to it?

Michael Furtado | 22 November 2021  

MF (22/11): Sr Sonia Wagner SGS's 1990 "Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus: A Retrospective" notes that Pope John Paul II's "definitive statements" on the issue of women's ordination to the priesthood "were heeded and fully respected" (p.1), and that the scope of the study commissioned by the ACBC on the participation of women in the Church "cannot be limited to a single issue' and "cannot be subsumed under ordination" (loc.cit.) Things have evidently changed, with women's ordination in the Preliminary Council preliminaries being identified by a number as "a right" and first priority for reform, and now sweeping pronouncements such as "the Roman Catholic Church" regarding "nature as well as women as something to be dominated," being delivered in a condemnatory tone in clear contravention of the spirit of dialogue and collaboration expressed as desirable in Sr Wagner's measured account.
As for Catherine LaCugna's theology - a matter despite your evident wish to skate over it - of no little consequence, I note, as well as her assertion of the irrelevance of reflection on the "immanent" Trinity (stated in her work "God for Us"), her rejection of the understanding of "equality" as involving "complementarity and mutuality" accepted in the "Woman and Man" Project's 's Executive Summary (#6).

John RD | 22 November 2021  

Sr Wagner's Response doesn't indicate an acceptance of John-Paul's's absolutist position. Instead, she exercised her considerable diplomatic, theological and pastoral skills to help hose down a stand-off. A tragedy though that you introduce the good Pope to this conversation. If 'SILENCIO' hadn't been shrieked out by him to silence Sr Theresa Kane during his visit to the US in 1979, I imagine that a great many of the extraordinary religious women who have graced and built our Church as well as served the Gospel, would generously set aside the indignities with which some clumsy clerical men have treated them. After all our eternal reward is not to be found through shady gambits to storm the male priesthood in order to erect an equally impenetrable barricade that privileges women. Indeed most of the religious woman I know have scant regard for any form of ordination. What drives the synodal point is the fact that we have a multiply layered clerical crisis that cannot forever be resolved by importing overseas priests. It was this extraordinary and disrespectful outrage that not only fed female militancy in the Church but also turned the tide of LaCugna's position into a critique of clerical male power.

Michael Furtado | 25 November 2021  

'If 'SILENCIO' hadn't been shrieked out by him to silence Sr Theresa Kane during his visit to the US in 1979' Is this a New Catholic QAnonical view of history?

It hadn't. Popes know better than to shriek during official welcomes at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, no matter how they may feel privately. But he did say that to some Nicaraguans who wanted him to celebrate a mass with political overtones.

However, even Jesus made it clear to the man who despoiled the Temple by mingling the blood of worshippers with their sacrifices that he was not a king of this world, even though this world is where the despoiled House of God was actually located, and Paul only told soldiers to be content with their pay.

roy chen yee | 26 November 2021  

So, MF, (26/11) do you include in those four women religious you mention (23/11) who "lift their hands and intone the words of Consecration" among those religious female acquaintances you say "have scant respect for any form of ordination" (25/11)? What a conclusively authoritative and durable basis on which to build a reform agenda for the Catholic Church. The rhetoric of the radical feminist critique you support concerning the Church's reservation of the ordained priesthood to men is predicated largely on a secularist construction of power that exaggerates misogyny's influence on Church teaching - not unlike how the strategic charge of homophobia is magnified and mobilised against traditional Catholic teaching on marriage - minimising the range, influence and spiritual motivation of women, married and single, in Church history; and. in so doing, demonstrating a breathtaking condescension towards Catholic women and their faith-inspired contributions to the life of the Church.

John RD | 26 November 2021  

I think Carol sounds like she is a real grownup, a status very few women or men achieve. A problem with the Catholic Church in this country is that its mindset in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in the mass production of dependent people who could not function independently. The paedophilia crisis, which is still unfolding with a hierarchy more intent on protecting its 'good name' and assets, shook many people alive. Our sister churches in Ireland and the USA were faced with the same problem. They seem to have come out of it better because, particularly in Ireland, the hierarchy bit the bullet, faced the ugly truth and actually did something. Jesus grew up in a family with a mother, who, by what the Bible tells us, was quite independent and feisty in all the right ways. The women were Jesus' closest supporters, stayed with him to the end and were the first to see the empty tomb and The Resurrected Christ. St Gregory the Great, for some bizarre reason, on no evidence whatever, turned St Mary Magdalene into an ex-hooker. The image of women in the Catholic Church is defective. This has nothing to do with Doctrine but is the result of crass stupidity and ignoring Jesus' example. I think Pope Francis is effecting change, yes real change. Long overdue change. A return to the Church's genuine roots.

Edward Fido | 19 November 2021  

A good start would be to use inclusive language in the liturgy.

Barbara Matthies | 19 November 2021  

The language of the Eucharist celebrates the saving and doxological action of Christ himself, summed up in the concluding words of the Eucharistic prayer: "Through him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever", to which the congregation responds in unison: "Amen." "Gender-inclusive language" has doctrinal and liturgical limits, rooted in the incarnation of Christ, the reality of which is inherently reflected in the Mass's doxological structure and its status as the pre-eminent act of Christian worship. Moreover, "gender-inclusive language", increasingly defined as it is by a demand for extended pronoun-usage, is also subject to the constraints of language's task as a vehicle of meaningful communication, not to mention felicity of style necessary for its aesthetic dimension.

John RD | 21 November 2021  
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Bejaysus! When we're not being king-hit by JRD on the 'wet fish' (to most everyday Christians) doctrine on the Logos and its obscure implications for the Trinity, off he goes again reaching out for yet another cracked Grecian 'urn' import (for most Catholics) to theological gobbledygook, viz. the Solemn Doxology. I remember a silent one-sided 'debate', engendered, if that's the tantalising word, by Cardinal Pell's even more un-pontifical and meaningless instruction to all schools and parishes that the pronouncement of the Doxology was the sole prerogative of the ordained Catholic Eucharistic celebrant. Well; have I got news for his lofty Eminence: our 'Jesuit-inflected' choir at St Iggy's Toowong intones it along with the entire congregation and our priest responds with a resounding and affirming 'Amen'. Take heart, Andrea! That is as it should be in the everyday, albeit unofficial, under-the-radar, roll out of the Catholic liturgy in our parish. Not simply that but ahead of me in the pews I see four religious sisters lift their hands and intone the words of Consecration. While I'd never reveal their names, I'd be more than happy to take on a canonical investigation by our Archbishop into such unspeakably irregular and prohibited practice.

Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

Michael Furtado: Your dismissiveness of standard theological and liturgical terms as "gobbledygook" and endorsement of practices that are uncharacteristic of "everyday" celebration of the Eucharist suggests to me a sorry ignorance of the Catholic tradition, serving only to throw further into question the grounds for and substance of the reforms you demand the Church implement through the Plenary Council process.

John RD | 24 November 2021  

No question about the reforms I demand, John RD.

Andrea's voice is puny compared with the millions of women and men who've left the Church, disgusted by its double standards, hypocrisy and bishops who hold on so 'steadfastly' to their view of the Magisterium (itself a highly contested field) that in my own archdiocese we have a potentate who doesn't even meet with his priests.

I'm glad you gain solace from that tradition, but I care for the women and men who have left in disgust as well as the poor deluded remnant left in the pews, mainly elderly with nothing much to live for but death.

This is the stark reality of the future facing Catholicism. I appreciate your almost verbatim parroting of the Summa, your profound understanding of the canon and your 'steeped in Catholicism' view of the world.

The trouble is that, all we have to show for it is a wrinkled demographic, a 'Body of Christ' pickled as in prunes bottled and stored for posterity and served up every now and then for a purpose that you and I both well understand: to purge the Church of its unwanted and derided, and preserve a diminishing remnant.

Michael Furtado | 13 February 2022  

MF(13/2): In my experience, people leave the Church for a range of reasons. Most, though, just drift away, distracted, not bothering even to rationalize their dissociation. Others demand that the Church, by radically changing her teachings, usually on sexuality, approve choices they've made which oppose those teachings.
Whatever the reasons for departures, the picture you paint is, I think, distorted to the extent that it lays responsibility for departures exclusively on the Church; and blinkeredly bleak in a way that diminishes the possibilities of the faith, hope and love - unspectacular perhaps but effective - expressed in the daily lives of many I meet who remain in the Church.
And again, I find your extremity is apparent in your convenient pigeon-holing of my alleged "verbatim parroting of the Summa", which refuses to acknowledge the thinking of those to whom I've referred often who are rightly regarded as Aquinas's developers.

John RD | 18 February 2022  

While accepting your remarks about why people leave the Church, JohnRD (Feb 18) I don't accept the rest of them. When I read Ilia Delio, referenced by you, I withdrew my mistaken comment and noted that she is widely counted among those whose writing supports a Catholic faith dynamic that is widely and repeatedly supported by modernists.

Michael Furtado | 23 February 2022  

Thanks, Andrea. Hopefully, your clearly expressed thoughts will lead to some re-ordering of our thinking. With some humility, perhaps acknowledging the lacuna each of us has to varying degrees will help us to become less certain and seek to fill the void of our limited understanding. Each of us sees from a different vantage point. The depths and breadths of our differences and uniqueness provide us with a broad palate to work with. We do have those who will insist on sticking with primary colours and treating each of us as yet another Lego block of precisely the same dimensions. Perhaps in a synodal Church the sun will shine through the stained glass to provide us with a kaleidoscope of colour with rich variation rather than the the uninteresting fare currently on offer. Rock on Andrea.

Kimball Byron Chen | 22 November 2021  

Thank you Andrea for your very important thoughts on equality for women in the church..

I believe that Pope Francis is probably the most progressive pope in history, so it was a pity to hear that he made the comment about women being the strawberry on the cake.

Similar arguments have been used in the past to argue against women who want greater equality.

Other churches have women who are priests, bishops and archbishops and senior church leaders. Admittedly, not many fulfill these roles at present, but the process of equality is beginning. and it seems to me that the Catholic Church cannot be an exception without losing numbers.

If the hierarchy refuses the move to having women leaders and married priests, I can see many women voting with their feet and joining other churches who do.

Something like 60% of church attendees in Australia are women according to the Australian National Church Life Survey of 2016:

I know a Catholic woman who has just completed a PhD in theology and she knows that she will not be accepted as a priest. Such a woman could play a key leadership role.

I thought Edward Fido's comment about The Society of Friends (Quakers) is a very interesting one as it is a religious organisation that has no clergy. It is dedicated to peace and its members are actively involved in the movements for human rights, social justice and environment movements.

Some years ago I worked on an East Timor solidarity committee with a very progressive Loreto nun. She was inspired by the Quakers and had come to the conclusion that to be effective Christians have to work for the full laicisation of the church.

I suspect that it will take a long time for her dream to be realised.

Andrew (Andy) Alcock | 22 November 2021  

I think the problem with the Catholic Church in this country and the world is its generally outmoded and stilted way of thinking about many things, including the sexes and the relationship between them. Jesus never, ever put women down. He never told them they were second rate and had to observe a subsidiary role. His mother was not like that. One of the really nasty things coming out of the Church's Augean Stables is the sexual assault and rape of nuns by clergy. This is vile, criminal stuff and has largely gone unpunished. People who assault and rape women are sickos and should be removed from society. Life imprisonment? A thoroughly good idea. We need to move on from there. Creating women deacons and thus enabling them to preach, as well as baptise, marry and bury parishioners would both relieve the priest shortage and allow women to have a real ministerial role within the Church. There is no doctrinal bar to this. I am not sure the Church needs to be laicised as the Loretto nun Andy Alcock mentions said, but I think it needs to realise that men and women, clergy and laity, are all absolutely equal before God. The priestly calling is a blessing and a privilege, but it is a function, it does not raise you up above the rest of humanity.

Edward Fido | 23 November 2021  
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(Forced into quarantine after a mishap, I've ES to thank for ruminating.) Edward's so right to privilege the Catholic women's equality question. Of the Counter-Reformation Martyrs women seldom get a mention but when they do they outstrip the boys for their fidelity and courage. One such was Margaret Clitheroe. A York publican's wife, you can imagine her taciturn turn of phrase as she served up a pint or three and kept the house in order. Her mission was hiding Jesuits who stopped at York to celebrate the Eucharist for North Yorkshire Catholics. While I wouldn't want to hurt our Anglican cousins by forgetting Mary's burning of Cranmer at Oxford, Margaret's bravery was quite exceptional. Evidently she hid priests in her cellar, where she organised a makeshift chapel and a 'priest-hole'. Considered the most dangerous enemies of the murderous Henrician state, the Jesuits, uniquely as they still thankfully do, mixed faith and politics at a time when they collided as never before and possible since. Alas, she was 'espied' and arraigned at York Assizes. Refusing to 'name her priest', she was 'secured' under a door upon which a heavy confession-extracting boulder was added each day till she died. Be strong, Andrea!

Michael Furtado | 04 January 2022  

Not greater gender equity Andrea. Equal rights. Nothing less. Why we pussy foot around the Vatican's piecemeal token rights handouts is beyond belief. It is the congregations that have made them the richest and most powerful church in the world.
Article 2 UDHR: Passed 73 years ago and in which the Vatican say they believe. " Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."
Australia is a signatory.
The UDHR was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1948, with Australia voting in favour.

Francis Armstrong | 24 November 2021  
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Francis Armstrong, you're quite correct in saying the Vatican supported the UDHR in 1948 - it still does; and the substance of the document is conceived and articulated in the language of natural law morality,
which belongs to essentialist school of moral and social philosophy without which it's impossible to promote universal norms. However, there is no stipulation in the Declaration of any universal "right" to priestly ordination, an entitlement you assume when arguing in "Eureka Street" as you frequently do from the principle of "equality" for women's ordination in the Catholic Church.

John RD | 26 November 2021  

John RD, I don't believe it. Gender cant determine fitness for any role. The arguments for the status quo always fall back on tradition. In Jesus day there were slaves. That tradition has been abolished. Generally women are fitter for ordination than men because if the RC findings are right more than 20 per cent of the members of some Catholic religious orders — including Marist Brothers and Christian Brothers — were allegedly involved in child sexual abuse.
So is a vow of celibacy redundant? It would seem so.
One Bishop interviewed said that 50% of male religious fall off the wagon.

"Nearly 2,000 Catholic Church figures, including priests, religious brothers and sisters, and employees, were identified as alleged perpetrators in a report released by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse." ABC News Feb 27 2017.
There is a litany of Christian churches that ordain women - even the Catholic Mariavite Church schism of 1935. In the image associated with Andrea's article the nun clad in subservient clothes with a shy subservient demeanour is showing gratitude for a role handout. The Cardinal has his eyes fixed adoringly on the Pope, who plump and beaming bestows his token to women's rights on the subservient female. We need to wake the Vatican up.
Now we know the Catholic church ordains married priests from the Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches so if an Anglican female priest decided to become Catholic, they could not refuse her.

Francis Armstrong | 26 November 2021  

Francis, you assert in one sentence: "Gender can't determine fitness for any role;" and in the next, that their gender better qualifies - makes women "fitter" - for ordination than men. You also suggest the vow of celibacy is the major cause of child abuse among priests and religious. The figures you supply, if accurate, (and I note the ABC statistics refer to "alleged" perpetrators and include "employees"), justify a thorough examination of screening and formation procedures for priesthood and religious life, but do not lead necessarily to the conclusion of abolishing the Catholic Church's current requirement,
which, practised faithfully, has contributed much to the spread of the Gospel and the upbuilding of all the faithful. "Tradition" in the Catholic Church, is not the mere rubber stamp for the "status quo" you portray it as; rather, it is a living organism that manifests in history renewal and growth, continuity and adaptation - not change so radical, though, as to make the Church indistinguishable from a world, at least in an affluent West, increasingly given to the conception and pursuit only of a secular view of love, life and reality.

John RD | 30 November 2021  

‘so if an Anglican female priest decided to become Catholic, they could not refuse her’. A legitimate conversion involves giving up the notion that a woman can be a priest. They’ll have to find her another job.

roy chen yee | 30 November 2021  

Great post, Francis! The problem we confront with those tending the 'equine' stable (that you aptly describe their model of Church) is the distinction the Pope exercises as an independent Head of State and as Supreme Pontiff (saddled with a Curia and global episcopate, most of whose elderly members were appointed by his two traditionalist predecessors). Francis is eighty-four, older in fact than all the Church's serving Bishops, so as a betting man I'd say that while the cards are stacked against him, his global appeal is no less critical to his success than that portrayed in the riveting BBC television series. 'I, Claudius' (Robert Graves, 1934). In case you don't know it, try the Machiavellian Tory politician Francis Urquhart in the BBC's House of Cards (1990–1995) television trilogy. In my view, the encouragement the Jesuits give to this kind of relatively 'open' exchange recommends a more subtle, patient and long-term 'wait-and-see' approach to Church politics, in which not just you and I but the rigidly conservative clique around us are mere bit-players in a highly complex drama of intrigue, Machiavellianism and party politics. Call me cynical, but I think this is a distraction from how the Vatican actually works.

Michael Furtado | 04 January 2022  

“And God said to the woman “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over you “

Power (Rule over) without Love/Truth corrupts and womankind has suffered under the jackboot of man since the ‘Fall’ We see this misogyny in
‘Woman is a temple built over a sewer’.–Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

‘Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God’. –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430

‘As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence’ –Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century

‘The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

These examples of cruel and misogynistic remarks/attitudes go on and on throughout the ages and are unchristian, as headship was, in fact, used to justify domestic violence and tyrannical dominance. To articulate, loud, clear, in concise truth against these ingrained attitudes, of many males within the church, now and throughout the ages, is to be in harmony with these words

Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”

As in the natural order of things, it is natural to rebel against injustice and if the conflict is not resolved, in time, can lead (Push) one into anger, wrath, malice, manipulation etc. Hence we have the Sibyls of this world, and mankind fears her power.

With the ‘Fall’, equality (love, true sharing, and companionship) was lost.
Jesus teaches (desires) a healing equality in all things, from those who love Him and this equality is manifest in Unity of Purpose (to act as one).

“Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

The crowd thirsts for life, the living Word of God, Jesus will not permit favoritism (Preferentiality), before our Father in heaven, and demonstrates this to us, in a most convincing manner, those who worship in Spirit and Truth (hear Gods Will and do it) are all equal and cannot be divided by any human (Worldly) standards, based either on GENDER or family ties.

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Our spiritual Fraternity cries out to equality, for acceptance (To act) in Unity of Purpose (Not to be ruled over). Those who dwell on the Tree of Life (True vine), are sustained by the sap of Love/Truth (Holy Spirit) and bear fruit, in Unity of Purpose, the Will of God is singular and gender conveys no privilege. The branches, flowers (those who worship in Spirit and Truth) send forth their scent (Holy Spirit) from their essence, the sacrificial image of Christ, and bear fruit….Please consider continuing via the link.
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 24 November 2021  
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Kevin are you trotting these arcane quotes out as a justification for the Vatican continuing its policy of equal rights Apartheid toward women and the laity?

Tertullian was obviously intellectually challenged. As for Luther, I'd hardly hold him up as a paragon of intellect or virtue or adherence to church principles.
This type of selective hay munching is bound to cause equine diarrhea.

Francis Armstrong | 25 November 2021  

Thank you for your comment, Francis if you had followed my link and read my ‘complete post’ you would have then found a similar post to yours with my response as given below.

‘My intention was not to cherry pick quotes nor were they aimed at one individual but rather to demonstrate undeniable misogynistic ‘attitudes’ within Christendom throughout the ages, which still continues today, in the real world. This reality needs to be addressed within the Church, although I have to acknowledge that the Church is slowly changing, but these changes sadly are driven by outside forces rather than from within’

As an example
St. Paul in chapter five of Ephesians says (v. 22 – 24) “Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord: because a husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church, being ...
And down through the ages this was translated as “wives must obey their husbands” a distortion but nevertheless reinforced by Ephesians 6:5, CSB: One of the favorite passages of slave-owning Christians “Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ.”

Both statements suited the ruling classes down through the ages, while the ‘Fathers’ of the Church reinforced their actions. Actions that assisted in subjugating so many women and enslaved peoples to injustice, manifest as violence, control, cruelty, intimidation, and other forms of abuse.

Thankfully the suffragette movement confront this obnoxious reality (Not the Church) As an aside, to emphasize male dominance, women were not given the vote in Frances until 1946 and in Mexico until 1958.

This reality is now reflected in the now approved Catholic wedding vows ‘Obey’ or be ‘submissive’ has become and is stated by both the bride and groom I will love you and ‘honor’ you all the days of my life.#
Wedding vows presently said by both the bride and groom
(name), take you, (name), to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life

In these words, we see equality and mutual respect, which is what I am advocating in my long Post which is given via the link in my post above.
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 26 November 2021  

Michael Furtado, 22 Nov. The clergy's flamboyant dress can be removed at will - unlike the eternally defacing tatoos!!

john frawley | 27 November 2021  
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Absolutement, Johnnie Fraws! And, being human, one sometimes has to wonder whether chasubles and tatts may not also cover a multitude of worse imperfections. My gorgeous, incorrigible daughter, Camille, once broke every solemn Catholic convention in Newry Cathedral at the age of three, tottering up to the sanctuary at sermon-time and asking Bishop Frankie Brooks (who was 'miked') why he wore a 'pretty dress like Mummy's'. Brooksie, who limped, bent forward, lifted her onto his lap, let her play with his pectoral Cross and handed her back to us post-sermon with a wry: 'She offers a refreshing point of view, she does!'

Michael Furtado | 30 November 2021  

‘worse imperfections’ True. Nothing worse than putting the Isle of Man under the Archbishop of Armagh when who can tell what may happen to Northern Ireland. The Curia might discreetly have sought a word with the Foreign Office about it. Much better to look ahead with Magisterium-like foresight and place it under the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Dromore and Blackburn are probably non-starters because a proud self-governing jurisdiction might blanch at being placed under a mere English bishop when there’s an archbishop available, and Dromore, in any case, is Irish. What would the Church do without that Magisterium-like foresight?

roy chen yee | 01 December 2021  

MF. It is amazing how the eyes of children somehow see beyond the created facades. It must be the purity of innocence (the emperor with no clothes). A three year old grandson of mine wandered into the aisle and made his way towards the sanctuary at Mass one Sunday. After observing the proceedings at close hand he turned to his mother and called during the solemn silence of the consecration, "Hey, Mummy. Is the man in the green dress God?"

john frawley | 01 December 2021  
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That ain't nuffin, Johnny F! Our younger daughter, Nuala, thought she'd found God when, during the Responses at Mass celebrated by Fr Peter Kennedy of St Mary's South Brisbane for the first five years of her life, she audibly responded, 'Thanks, Peter God!' Obviously, elocution classes at All Hallows' didn't put her right until the responses were beamed up on an OHP. Unfortunately, Peter's radicalism eventually cost him the Church he loved: a huge loss - of a great priest - to the Brisbane Church! Please pray for him, for those who pushed him out, for the large congregation who left with him. for our daughters and, especially, for me.

Michael Furtado | 08 December 2021  

Catholics these days have nothing on the finery of Anglo-Catholics, as displayed at such 'temples' of the Faith as St Peter's Eastern Hill, Melbourne, John Frawley 'just across the road from St Patrick's Cathedral and far Higher Church'. If your grandson (and even some older people) were to wander into SPEH at the 11.00 am Sunday Eucharist, with the clergy's finery; the beautiful gilded altar; the wonderful music and the generous use of incense he might think he was indeed in Heaven.

Edward Fido | 02 December 2021  

If indeed I had wandered into the service you describe at St Peter's Eastern Hill, Edward, I would have believed that I had wandered into what used to be the Catholic Church! Just imagine how much more mundane the Catholic ritual and liturgy will be if the current crew of reformers achieve their ambitions.

john frawley | 02 December 2021  

John F, one of the great tragedies of the final English break with Rome during the time of Elizabeth 1 was this was the Golden Age of English Literature: the time of Shakespeare; the Book of Common Prayer and The Authorised Version of the Bible. High Anglican Liturgy was always beautiful and soothed the soul. Anglican hymns are wonderful. The Post Vatican 2 English liturgies leave much to be desired and Modern Catholic hymns are dreadful. This is not a doctrinal thing: it is an aesthetic one. I think Vatican 2 was necessary but some of the aesthetic vandalism which followed was unnecessary. You do get good liturgy in St Stephen's Cathedral, at the Carmelite Church in Coorparoo and with the Oratorians in Annerley. So there is hope. Ed Campion used to audit Anglican services. Perhaps Catholic seminarians could get a few hints from visiting St Peter's and other Anglo-Catholic "shrines".

Edward Fido | 06 December 2021  
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Edward, much as I love the traditional Anglican hymnody, like the Russian and Greek traditions, it is locked into a time-warp that hardly preceded the Elizabethan and Greek monastic modalities that define 'worship' in those traditions. Liturgy for Catholics is much more than a form or formulary according to which public religious worship is conducted. Since Vatican II it has become part of the evangelising mission of Catholicism and, as such, is responsive to culture and all that such a thing means for the spread of the Gospels. While acknowledging the arch of your undoubtedly 'High'-brow, and taste for the archaic and perhaps exotic, it may assist to know that good liturgy depends on sound theology and, while desirably aesthetic, recognises that aesthetics is a matter of taste and little more. 'Beware the well-modulated voice,' Fr Lewis SJ, the Campion Hall liturgist once ruminated. Contemporary Catholic liturgy, if well explained, understood and crafted, is sublime but also arresting, provocative, consoling, heart-rending and the rest of it, impervious to nothing except hearts that have turned to stone. The St Louis Jesuits perform it superbly, turning the Scriptures into a congregational language that never fails to give pilgrims an experience of God.

Michael Furtado | 13 December 2021  

Edward modern catholic hymns are dreadful because the have stubbornly used AOV 1 and AOV 2 for the past 30 years. I submitted 43 hymns I had written to the Brisbane Chancery and they scoffed and implied who the hell did I think I was? They refused to review them. Not on content or merit.
Yet I have had 30 semi finals in the UK song contest and 1 finalist and a score of honorable mentions. Marianna Moes and I recorded 26 hymns and the Brisbane Chancery refused to let any be performed at St Marys. As Julia was wont to say "it's all about character and temperament". ( of our pompous AB).
They prefer American hymns and our current AB is besotted and fixated on chamber music.
They buried the work, no doubt in the hope that it might be discovered posthumously in some future catacomb. Don't forget Amazing Grace was written by the captain of a slave ship.
Ye Gads, the last PP at Runaway Bay insisted on playing DVDs of Andre Rieu conducting his orchestra during mass and writing some dreadful rag called Father Barry's tram stop.
Draw your own conclusions.

Francis Armstrong | 15 December 2021  

Francis complains that +Coleridge doesn't reply to his missives. Firstly, its the references to 'equine diarrhea' that might somewhat distract. Secondly, its Francis' invention of a wide-angled lens that offers scope for viewing China, Francis's son's future in the Australian Navy, the Synod, now under prayerful discernment, and His Grace's sleepless nights spent reaching out to nurture and protect priests who, subsequent to serving jail sentences have nowhere to turn except to the police to protect them from lynching, that confuses. Thirdly, Francis' reference to St Mary's, the known refuge of every Brisbane dissident, that would surely have opened up an opportunity for Archbishop Coleridge to overlook the global nature of Francis' complaints, when the Archbishop himself spent time at St Mary's meeting parishioners with a view to establishing what was now to be done, but drew a determined 'non-response' on that front. Finally, Dr James Cuskelly, who was almost singularly responsible for the marvelous liturgy that gave life to St Mary's, left because he disagreed with those egging Peter Kennedy on to a complete and absolute break with the Church. Tragically, almost all the congregation left with Jamie. Francis will find that a little 'toning-down' goes a long way.

Michael Furtado | 19 December 2021  

There is more than one St Mary's church in SE Qld MF. "the known refuge of every Brisbane dissident" Wrong one old boy. Your ability and unquenching desire to sweep religious iniquity under the carpet and to pooh pooh my writings is predictable yet unacceptable. Whilst you crow about your lofty powers of discernment it reminds me of a quote from scene 5 Macbeth: “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
And yes, his Grace has been known to have his head up his fundament, though to my knowledge he does not hang around dimly lit parks after midnight.

Francis Armstrong | 15 January 2022  

Francis Armstrong mentions St Mary's in the same sentence as he mentions the Brisbane Chancery. There is no other St Mary's in the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane other than St Mary's Beaudesert, which everyone would agree would never be referred to as St Mary's Brisbane.

It happens though that there is an equally 'musical' St Mary's church at Kangaroo Point, like St Mary's South Brisbane used to be, with a fine reputation for Anglican liturgy, and, of course, Neo-Gothic in design rather than Romanesque, like the Catholic St Mary's.

Perchance Francis alludes then to St Mary's Beaudesert or St Mary's Kangaroo Point, depending on whether he is describing a Catholic or Anglican liturgy, both of which are categorically different in terms of the Catholic emphasis on both the Eucharist as well as congregational participation in it or whether he alludes to the Anglican St Mary's which is very traditional and known for its fine classical concerts.

Francis, as usual, will find that, if he focuses his attention on carefully reviewing what he writes, it is likely that he will achieve a better targeting of his point, which otherwise tends, as in the above instance, to be lost amidst his outbursts.

Michael Furtado | 05 February 2022  

PS. As for the Oratorians at Annerley. once the 'Hic Est Domus Dei' of every Catholic on the Inner-City Brisbane Southside, this Church is now desecrated by Oratorians who now dress the way Jesuits used to in Counter-Reformation times as they flitted across fields and hedgerows in rural England while hounded by Henrician henchmen keen on stamping out the one Order that restored post-Reformation English Catholicism. When +Coleridge invited them to the archdiocese he said he had thought that here was a golden opportunity to avail of the great renewal that Newman had triggered in Victorian England. Tragically that has not transpired with priests more interested in swinging thuribles, holding perpetual novenas and with a mode of worship that makes 'MaryMac' resemble the interior of a Hindu temple. The local congregants, who were the mainstay of this once illustrious parish, the home of Irish-Australian stalwarts of the likes of the Gairs, the Dickies and the (Maxine) McKews, have been driven away and replaced by mantilla-wearing, rosary jangling, and largely silent traditionalists and fundamentalists who treat the Eucharist as a call to cultic worship rather a celebration! If +Coleridge had anticipated this breach of papal instruction he wouldn't have invited them.

Michael Furtado | 28 December 2021  

'rosary jangling'

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rosary jangle; the beads click or perhaps the chain as a whole rustles.

Hyperbole must come from the jungle of your mind, the word itself deriving from the Hindi ‘jangal’ in which the only jangling to be heard, jungles as a whole not being very metallic in structure, might be a bird impersonating a sari siren’s jangling bangles, although bangle derives from the Hindi ‘bangli’ for a glass bracelet which, being glass or crystal, like some rosary beads, doesn’t jangle either.

roy chen yee | 08 January 2022  

Clever; but you're wrong about 'bangles', Roy, which jingle and jangle in the manner of Bengali/ Bangali dancers, worshiping at the Kali Temple.

Sometimes the sounds are metallic because the shackles that you associate with religiosity, are made of steel, copper, bronze or even gold and silver: always ostentatious but in the end uninspirational and vapid, designed to enslave rather than invite.

Are your's a bit tinny too and hollow, one has to wonder, because my Rosary, used for private prayer at home in the wee hours, is made of glass, luminescent at night when I'm sure that Our Lady, dressed as a sari-siren, breaks away from tabla practice to have a richly-deserved irreverent giggle about those who focus on them instead of the Eucharist that is supposed to be devoted to celebrating the Gift of Her Son and the Liberation of the Universe.

Michael Furtado | 17 January 2022  

'focus on them instead of the Eucharist'

You focus on the Eucharist at home? You have an altar? How ... unsurprising.

roy chen yee | 18 January 2022  

Like the word 'marriage', which is misappropriated for 'gay marriage', 'bangle' in its tinny sense is a misnomer for the origin of its derivation, 'bangli', which is a glass bracelet, the elements of which do not jangle.

Bracelet would have served better in place of 'bangle', as you can have metal bracelets, just as 'civil union' is a better phrase for 'gay marriage' because a marriage between a man and a woman produces a being who is truly a child of both while a civil union between homosexuals by any name concocts a child who is deprived of nurture in one line of its genetic provenance.

But, of course, we live in a postmodern world where a word means whatever a speaker channeling the spirit of the Queen of Hearts wants it to mean.

roy chen yee | 19 January 2022  

Roy, I'm beginning to think that we concede too much by employing tags like "postmodern world" and "post-truth" world, and hence think our descriptors should respect and emphasise the light that has shone and continues to shine through the witness of the saints and their unsung contemporaries: the many hearers and doers of Christ's word outside the circle of the academy. I'd welcome your thoughts on this.

John RD | 07 February 2022  

Welcome back, John RD, regularly or off-and-on.

You’re right. Using weak, flailing labels or tags such as ‘postmodern’, ‘post-truth’, ‘post-colonial’ could be like Paul on Mars Hill trying to explain truth with vocabularies which don’t contain truth to the idle who are merely interested in being entertained and tickled by ‘discourse’ (Marty Rice being quite correct in a post he addressed to me before Christmas).

And so Paul flailed and he failed and he went back to simply preaching Christ crucified, and Christ was crucified because of sin, easily described from the transparent words of Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium (such as the Catechism), although, even in recent posts, we see ‘moderns’ resiling from using and analysing ‘sin’ in favour of anodyne euphemisms such as ‘breaches of trust’ which cannot address the fact that sin is not merely avoiding the doing of this or that thing to someone else but the stepping outside of and away from what we are.

The ’what we are’ is currently more significant than what we do because while Christians may try to forget the world, the world (with its concomitant elements, the flesh and the devil) doesn’t forget Christians, and that package does not contain a demeanour which is inclusive, even though it likes to say it does. The Citipointe Christian College saga in Brisbane is a case in point.

Even allowing for the fact that Pentecostals generally aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed when saying what they should say, all the school wanted to do was to make a certain point of canonical biblical teaching very clear and obvious to its students and staff. The substance of the pushback from the world, the flesh and the devil is that sin must be allowed to dwell unhindered and unchallenged in the heart of a student’s daily and private practice of the Christian canon, Caesar usurping the things of God, unless one considers it appropriate for Caesar to be managing or micro-managing the heart of a canon.

In Darkness at Noon, the State loses if it executes a defiant prisoner. It only wins if the prisoner is executed after being brought to believe that the State was right all along and that the prisoner, in being stiff necked in some philosophical or ideological way or another, had sinned against the State and deserved to be executed. Given the common observation that today’s pitiful outliers often turn out to be tomorrow’s in-group thugs, what we see in the Citipointe saga is a re-run of Koestler: the Christian canon in its current formulations cannot be dissolved until it is infected with the idea that it was wrong and is brought to believe that, in its current formulations, it humbly needs to be dissolved and reconfigured into something else. Otherwise, the world (and, certainly, the prince of it) will feel no victory.

Today, it might be some dullard Pentecostals but tomorrow is another prospect. The Christian canon extends to more than Pentecostals, and elements of it even extend into the Muslim canon which makes one ask whether a sympathetic Waleed Aly on The Project actually knows his history.

roy chen yee | 10 February 2022  

Thank you for your developed and penetrating response to my post (7/2), Roy.
The resonance and traction words have with their hearers rely to a large extent on their audience's disposition and applicability to their experience. Christ himself and Paul more than once encountered a stony deafness in response to their words, yet both persisted in announcing the message of the salvific, sacramental reign of God - in season and out of season, a treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).
As is very clear, Roy, you appreciate how the truths contained and knowable in sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium address with more than human authority and wisdom alone the depths of human existence - which is why they are more than straws in the wind, fodder for cosy chats, or the titillation of verbal joust, and merit an attention and responsiveness worthy of God calling and guiding hearers through them.
Christ's followers, who have have the assurance received in faith of his abiding presence in history, can be confident that fidelity to his word and "the way" it inspires, evident in the example of Christ himself and his saints, will continue to bear fruit. The parable of the sower and Christ's metaphor of the vine and branches bear, I think, special relevance to our times.

John RD | 11 February 2022  

When Roy engagingly swims out to address the reality of the contemporary world and the parlance through which it describes itself, John prefers to push him back into the murky shallows and muddy banks of the past which, while heady midstream currents in their day, dramatically engaged and intertwined within the discursive eddies that once drew the saints of old into the mainstream of public discourse of the time. Sadly, the greats of old have become ox-box lakes unable, as it were, to continue to contribute their sublime wisdom to an exchange which, in order to continue to guide and inform has, as always, found it necessary to keep critical pace with contemporary culture. Thus, the reforming zeal of Brigid of Ireland, Teresa of Avila and, in more recent times, Edith of Auschwitz! To retrospectively hermetically seal, as is our Catholic custom, those who have made it in those sublime contexts in which our prophets of old made their mark is to set vulgar limits on a magisterium that has been developing throughout human history and which throughout time becomes aware of Christ's role in a universality still in the making and which neither Roy nor John can reasonably limit.

Michael Furtado | 23 February 2022  

MF (23/2), I'd be confident that Roy's constant demonstration of a thorough and respectful appreciation of the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium in the Catholic Church would see him steer clear of any "murky shallows and muddy banks" he might encounter, whether occasioned by me or any other commentator in these pages.
I'd add that I find extraordinary your claim that Catholics, by "custom", "hermetically seal" the Church's reforming saints - disregarding as it does both their intercessory role in the communion of saints and the contemporary inspiration they continue to provide to the faithful all over the world.

John RD | 25 February 2022  

JohnRD (3/4) challenges me to explain how scholars have successfully critiqued the importation of Logos into Catholic doctrine, hence misdirecting it.

The answers are to be found in the fusion of Judaism and Christianity. Justin, a Stoic, introduced Pythagorian apologetics to Christian theology, which then became the lynchpins of Anselm's and Aquinas' systems. JohnRD, like his acolyte Roy (a Stoic, without question), is an apologist par excellence!

Classical Greeks (Socrates, Plato, etc) saw themselves as 'sons of God'. Christians used the same terminology (Logos, Spirit, God) as the Stoics did. In his Gospel, John alludes to Jesus as 'Logos', which Justin later argued inspired Plato and Socrates.

With no Greek word for 'Shekinah', non-Jewish Christians opted for Logos. Not only did this cultural transition fuse the Old and New Testaments, Scripture scholars now show how Greco-Roman Christians, especially after Constantine, completely altered and imposed a classical Greek reinterpretation.

Add to that the influence of Origen and Cassian and one has not only exegesis, which Roy & JohnRD seek to 'fix', but also the entire field of eschatology with its emphasis (like Marxism) on the End Times.

Reacting to this strident, imported and abstruse dogmatism, Christianity developed a spirituality of silence.

Michael Furtado | 11 April 2022  
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Justin's own account in his "Dialogue with Trypho" (2) indicates merely the briefest acquaintance with Pythagorean thought, dismissively impatient as he was on learning the preliminary requirements for further tuition in it - hardly substantial evidence to support claims of his bequeathing foundational status in the thought of Anselm and Aquinas.

John RD | 21 April 2022  

The literature on the evolution and embedding of Logos within Christian theology and understanding is widely and impressively researched under the most carefully scrutinised of empirical conditions, often by Jewish scholars and increasingly by Christians of all denominations.

Among those responsible for explaining the historically-constructed import of Logos from its pre-Christian Greco-Roman origins into Christian belief is the scripture scholar, Karen Armstrong ('The Case for God' (Several Editions), Alfred Knopf, NY, 2009).

Freed from the need to submit their work to the subjective discipline of an imprimatur or nihil obstat and reliant purely on copious research and assiduous referencing, scholars like Armstrong show that fundamentalism and Dawkinsian atheism are linked.
Fundamentalism, a C20th phenomenon, emerges from apologists in response to the scientific impulse to construct a rational faith. 

At the heart of fundamentalism is a literalist view of the Creation Story in Genesis 1. No amount of appeal to the Magisterium can dislodge this ultimate dependency.
I'm happy to progress this exchange given the critical nature of our differences about this.

Michael Furtado | 09 May 2022  

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