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Open government for the Church



Open government has been one of the big advances in society over the past 50 years. The struggle to achieve this has been conducted not only in governments around the world but also in the corporate sector. The claims for greater transparency have been resisted by those in authority for various reasons, including the fact that information is power. Slowly institutions have become more open and mechanisms, such as Freedom of Information (FOI), have been developed to process claims by citizens and shareholders for such information. Open government has come to be identified with good government. 

The Church in Australia has taken a step towards greater transparency with the release by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) of its first ever Annual Report-this one for the 2020 year. This step is welcome, but there is more to be done. Synodality and co-responsibility presumes that those who are walking together have equal access to information upon which to discern the future of the Church at all levels. 

For those who doubt that greater transparency is necessary for the health of the Church, the Introduction to the Annual Report by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the ACBC, explains the motivation in moving towards informing the Catholic community and the wider Australian society. He writes that the lack of transparency in the Church became apparentduring the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He also points to the influence of The Light from the Southern Cross, the official report by the Implementation Advisory Group commissioned by the bishops in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission to review church governance and culture. 

Church leaders, even those who want to make church processes more open, resist the idea that transparency should necessarily apply to the church as a matter of right. Transparency then becomes a matter of pragmatism or good will.  Synodality theory offers no help in this regard. If the Church is not a democracy, then the People of God do not possess the rights of citizens. 

In this ACBC Annual Report case Mark Coleridge feels it necessary to point out that We [the Church] are not a corporation or a business.Consequently, the laity do not have rights. He says, This is not an annual report to shareholdersas in the corporate world. His explanation is strained and in pointing out what the Church is not Coleridge does not make clear the basis upon which the information in the report is being provided to the Catholic community. 


'The Church needs open government and should not be afraid of transparency. The ACBC Annual report is a good starting point, but the Church should go further. The spirit of synodality demands it.'


The progress exhibited by the ACBC in issuing the annual report should be underpinned by an acceptance of the rights of the laity to timely information about internal church processes in a synodal church. The official thinking and language of the Church in Australia still fails to reflect that. A general sense that it is the appropriate or pragmatic thing to do is not enough. 

Open government is a major systemic issue for the Church. The ideal should be embedded. Yet getting information out of the church can be like getting blood out of a stone. 

It should not be a question of good will or of helpful church bureaucrats. My own requests for more information are often unsuccessful, though usually met with friendliness and respect from church civil servants. Requests for transparency have often been rebuffed by the hierarchy themselves, who still just don’t get it. 

The release of information should be the instinctive default position. FOI mechanisms within the Church should not be necessary but may have to be introduced if things do not improve. The release of information should also be timely. Information delayed is effectively information denied. 

The governance of the Plenary Council (PC) is a good contemporary example. Throughout its operations the PC governance has been far from open, and it continues to operate behind closed doors at this present critical period for the PC.  

The First Assembly Proposals from Small Groups and Individual Members document, released in December, is the primary resource for the current work of the official PC writing groups in preparing draft proposals for the Second Assembly in July. Yet in two ways the process is not transparent enough. That should be rectified immediately. 

The document itself contains not just the crucial collective small group reports from the First Assembly, but also 78 individual proposals from unknown PC Members. Not even other PC Members know who made these proposals, which are often at odds with the thrust of the group reports. This information should be released widely without delay and the document amended by inclusion of the names behind the proposals. 

Members have also just been informed of the composition, purpose, and resources of the four Writing Groups in the internal Member Update 14. But this very useful information about who is doing what has not been released publicly through the communication mechanism for the general Catholic community, which is called Plenary Post. The Catholic community is being kept at arm’s length. No convincing reason was offered by the authorities for this restriction, and it should be immediately remedied. 

The Church needs open government and should not be afraid of transparency. The ACBC Annual report is a good starting point, but the Church should go further. The spirit of synodality demands it. Let’s start with opening up the Plenary Council.  


John WarhurstJohn Warhurst is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, chair of Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, and a Plenary Council member.


Topic tags: John Warhurst, Open government, Transparency, PC, Plenary Council, Catholic, Australia


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It is extremely good that you, with your expertise, look at the way the administration of the Catholic Church functions in Australia in 2022, John Warhurst. I think it is the Pope who is pushing the synodality agenda from Head Office. His episcopal branch managers here are at least ambiguous. Mark Coleredge, I think, feels a bit like the rope in a tug of war. The Australian Catholic hierarchy, with a few exceptions, always go for the most conservative position. They are possibly afraid that some Catholics will take 'synodality' to mean that the Magisterium is up for grabs and 'negotiable'. It is not. Where do we go from here? Well, I hope people like you will continue leading the vanguard for change in church administration. You are sorely needed.

Edward Fido | 10 February 2022  

Thank god for people (too few) like professor Warhurst!
When so many thinking Catholics have virtually given up on the institutional church he continues to plug away at trying to give it relevance. I am concerned that the continuing intransigence and incomprehension of the church leaders is not only alienating the next generation but causing large numbers to treat the church as irrelevant. Warhurst is fighting a noble fight to give the church credibility.

JL Trew | 10 February 2022  

Thanks, John.
Hits the nail on the head.

Kevin Liston | 10 February 2022  

Thank you John. Honestly, it is so frustrating getting any kind of response from the hierarchy, at any level. I am surprised Bishop Coleridge would admit that the ACBC thinks we laity do not have rights. I wonder then if they think they have any rights over us.
I prefer the language of charitable obligations, you know the kind of things that develop in grown up relationships, free, open, dare I say synodal relationships.

Martin Nicol | 10 February 2022  

We are governed by local, State and Federal governments. The church is not a democracy because we, the Church, are governed, in sublime love, by our Creator. However, power is wielded by hierarchy in subtle and not so subtle ways. This is what needs to change: the perceptions of our hierarchical structures. Then transparency won’t be an issue.

Pam | 10 February 2022  

Thank you John for continuing to challenge church authorities on transparency, among other things. Your patience and optimism in trying situations is to be admired. I have less of these two traits in relation to the hierarchy. I think the brilliant arguments of Gabriel Moran in his book, What Happened to the Roman Catholic Church? What Now?: An Institutional and Personal Memoir are a way forward in this issue. The key idea and only way forward to resurrect (if I might use that term) the Catholic Church is to replace the clerical system which sees such men as clerics for life with a more transitional leadership model. Clerics need to withdraw from positions of power.

Tom Kingston | 10 February 2022  

From my admittedly primitive religious formation back in the '60s, I retain the impression that matters in the ecclesia are ultimately decided by the Holy Spirit moving in the entire Body of Christ, not simply the titular head. So in that sense, how is the Christian church (beyond Rome as well) not a democracy? ("One Nation under God"?) It ceases to be a democracy when the Spirit among the people of God is sidelined by an inward-oriented hierarchy. Gregory Dix, in The Shape of the Liturgy, got it dead right that it was the elite's gradual exclusion of the laity from active, intimate participation in liturgy that promoted the "holy huddle" mentality, each one to their own private devotions; thus, to religious individualism, the Reformation, and ultimately what he termed "the progressive apostasy" of the secular and unfettered individualism within the Enlightenment. So if church leaders, or at least a still influential part of them, do not regard the lessons of their own church's history as messages from the Holy Spirit - for whom they claim exclusively to speak, at times even over and above their boss at the Vatican - it would be no surprise if the same dynamic that split Latin Christendom after Luther might again spring up, albeit underground. Granted the church may not be a democracy - even one that knows itself subject to the Holy Spirit - but one doubts it was ever intended by its Founder to be a dictatorship.

Fred Green | 10 February 2022  

The late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, exile; hero of the French Resistance; doctor and Russian Orthodox writer and theologian of the 20th Century said Christ did not come to start an institution, but to save the world. Since the disastrous split of 1453 the Western Church has only been part of the apple. The heavy hand of legalism, aided by unreflective and outdated Scholasticism, lies heavy on the Church of Rome. The last three Popes and Patriarchs of Constantinople have all had a vision of a reunited Church. I believe the current Pope, as Patriarch of the West, has full authority over the Latin Rite. If any bishop dissents, he is in grave danger of both heresy and schism. What does it say of our current Australian hierarchy? They are shoddy temporisers with no vision. There is a difference between authority and authoritarianism which Mark Coleredge fails to realise. No wonder the pews are emptying!

Edward Fido | 11 February 2022  
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‘the pews are emptying’

It’s one thing for the chairs in a ‘church’ or ecclesiastical organisation which believes the Eucharist is only symbolic, and that forgiveness is a private transaction between you and God, to empty because those ‘churches’ are only private associations of individuals who rely on their ‘conscience’ to decide with whom others to do Bible study together.

If a pew-sitter vacates a Church which teaches that the Eucharist is the Real Presence and that sin is only forgiven by a sacrament that can only be administered by that Church, and who believes in Real Presence and Sacramental Forgiveness, that ex-pew-sitter is, by his or her own logic, insane or inane.

Ínsanity or inanity is saying ‘To myself’ in answer to Peter’s question ‘To whom else can we go?’

So much for logic meant to be instilled (at least, into those of Catholic persuasion) by millions of dollars, spent by parents and taxpayers on compulsory education. Instead, we have the logic of the antivaxxer who says, ‘For immunity against COVID, I can go to myself.’ I wonder how many of those ex-pew-sitters think the antivaxxers are mad, without realising that they are only looking into a mirror.

roy chen yee | 13 February 2022  

A curious contribution when examined for its coherence and plausibility.

Even assuming that Edward means a literal withdrawal from the Church, which no one, least of all those who love the Church enough to want to change matters at this dire juncture of renewal and reflection, post here as often as he does!

If such persons have 'literally' abandoned ship, why would they constitute a life-force in this discussion? And how might the qualifications, effort and literacy they bring to this discussion equate them with the ignorance of anti-vaxxers?

And, most important of all, where indeed are your own suggestions, Roy, in the midst of all this, for reform and renewal?

Michael Furtado | 15 February 2022  

‘If such persons have 'literally' abandoned ship, why would they constitute a life-force in this discussion?

There are correspondents here who say they are no longer in the Church because it has left them. I can’t see, and neither can you, how a Church can leave you if you are umbilically attached to the sacraments it dispenses.

‘And how might the qualifications, effort and literacy they bring to this discussion equate them with the ignorance of anti-vaxxers?’

Naked emperors can speak with great and intricate depth about costume while everyone else can see they are naked (and attached by an umbilical cord to a Church waiting for them at the corner, motors running).

‘most important of all, where indeed are your own suggestions’

I could say that, like your suggestions for how to give asylum, they are still tucked out of sight in Anthony Padgen’s back pocket. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of order and progress in the Church is by petition to God the prime and ultimate mover of all things. Mary Mackillop’s bishop was fallible but ultimately, upon petition, God restored her (and made her a saint, to boot).

Is it the intention of some of the synodalists here merely to make the secular personality of the local (or universal) Church a paradigm of human best practice (eg., rules for reporting possible abuse), or is it to usurp influence over its divine personality (eg., to argue for female priesthood)?

roy chen yee | 17 February 2022  

Edward, are you assuming would-be reformers en masse know "the difference between authority and authoritarianism"? I'm afraid it wasn't a distinction evident in the stridency and unsupported assertiveness of a number of the reform proposals presented in the first stage of the Plenary Council sessions I attended.

John RD | 15 February 2022  

And we all know about the role of devil's disciple that you assigned yourself in quashing those proposals, don't we?

Michael Furtado | 07 March 2022  

"If the Church is not a democracy then the People of God do not possess the rights of citizens."
The People of God possess more than the rights of citizens in a democracy: initiated into Christ, the baptized are God's sons and daughters by adoption, enjoying participation in the very life of the Trinity, the freedom of God's children, and the full inheritance of all the redemptive merits of Christ, "the first fruits" as identified by St Paul (1 Corinthians 15:20). Democracy, important as it is a form of government and expression of political freedom in this world, will pass away. Christ's inheritance will not.

John RD | 11 February 2022  

Pope John Paul II envisioned the ideal of a "glass house" transparency for the Church, but qualified this vision with a realistic analogy of life in a family, the basic unit of society and the Church. In his 1998 Address to the Conference of Austrian Bishops (par. 9), he says:
"The Church in our time is striving to become a "glass house", transparent and credible. And that is to be welcomed. But since any house has special rooms which are not open to all guests, so the Church's family dialogue can and should have rooms for conversations behind closed doors. This has nothing to do with secrecy, but with mutual respect to the advantage of the question being examined. In fact, the success of dialogue is jeopardised if it takes place before a public insufficiently qualified or prepared, and with the use of the not always impartial mass media. Rash or inappropriate attention from the public can seriously interfere with a dialogue process which is promising in itself."
I'd imagine the Pope's words, though in reference to the internal affairs and proceedings of the Church, would resonate today with many who hold positions of responsibility in secular institutions.

John RD | 11 February 2022  
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The CEV version of John 2:24 has, ‘But Jesus knew what was in their hearts, and he would not let them have power over him.’

The need for confidentiality comes from the prudence --- and the very ordinary prudence at that, reflected somewhat in your dog not liking it when it sees you looking at it trying to bury its bone – that wanting to be transparent in all details is impossible since the Fall. After all, when the Church was a band of twelve plus One, there was already a fly in the ointment called Judas.

If confidentiality is good enough for Jesus who knew he was hated by the world, it’s good enough for his Church which is hated by the world, and if it’s good enough to be implanted in your dog to supplement its innocence, it should be good enough for you to supplement your human nous.

roy chen yee | 14 February 2022  

And how might that critically important reminder of your's meet the crying need for a failing Church in a world in which democracy offers the best hope of tackling the challenges of the temporal world? Are you, in fact, enunciating the Protestant (and quintessentially Calvinist) Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms here, John?

Even 'Unam Sanctam' (Boniface VIII, 1302) doesn't do that. In the week in which we celebrate 'The Beatitudes' a post, such as your's, invites deeper reflection and clarification about the complex limits and interconnections, especially as taught in the Social Encyclicals, between Church and State.

Michael Furtado | 15 February 2022  

In answer to your question, MF, I should hope not. And I wonder what prompts you as a Jesuit alumnus, if "Two Kingdoms" are relevant, to place Pope John Paul II's instruction cited in the context of Calvinism rather than St Ignatius Loyola's "Two Standards" (or "Two Kingdoms") meditation in his Spiritual Exercises? Or, for that matter, St Augustine's City of Man and City of God?

John RD | 15 February 2022  

Augustine's Eden account condemns us to the everlasting perdition of Original Sin. (Biblical scholars hesitate in raising this uniquely Western-Christian interpretation, introduced half a millennium after Christ).

Eden has never been accepted by the Jews and Orthodox. Everyone sees these tales through the filters of subsequent history. When challenged you appeal to 'the magisterium' but that changes nothing!

Because the developed world is one of 'logos' (your favourite word) some people like you and Roy read Scripture literally, assuming its intention is to unleash the kind of accurate information that we expect from any other historical text and, more worryingly, that this is the way these stories have always been understood.

In fact, well into the modern period Jews and Christians insisted that it was neither possible nor desirable to read Scripture in this way and that it gives us no single, orthodox message while instead demanding constant reinterpretation.

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, when challenged about this in Sydney, responded: 'That is why we have the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. Nothing is fixed and all is open to interpretation.'

Eden is an imaginary account, not a morality tale, of humanity's infancy and longing. Good and Evil are inextricably intertwined in human life.

Michael Furtado | 23 March 2022  

"Eden" is more than "an imaginary account", MF, (24/3).
Though the authors of Genesis may make literary use of mythologies from surrounding cultures, they impose their own distinctive and inspired theology on them, expressing truths later enshrined in magisterial form - among them, about God as the Creator of all; the creaturely dependency of all creation upon God; the nature of humans as made uniquely in the image and likeness of God; the relationship of humans with God; one another and the rest of creation; the reality of sin as a refusal of creaturehood, and God's response in justice and mercy.
Moreover, interpretation of sacred scripture occurs within the tradition of the Church, which insists explicitly on some literal readings (e.g., the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist).

John RD | 03 April 2022  

That "Good and Evil are inextricably intertwined in human life" does not mean that they are indistinguishable as opposites.

John RD | 04 April 2022  

I note lots of interest in 'locked doors' here, John RD? Your synodal imagery seem to get closer and closer to Roy's view of hell, with its doors locked firmly from the inside. I thought it was a previous Pope, John XXIII, who finding the Church stale, cobwebbed and musty, gently pushed open the windows.

Two images of pleasant memory come to mind, the first of my parents dancing to 'Music, Music, Music', with You and Roy happily singing in the background from the same song-sheet, chirruping 'Closer! My Dear, Come Closer!'; and another with sadder although more raucous lyrics that perfectly capture your joint theology:

'Close the door; they're coming through the window.
Close the window; they're coming through the door.
Close the door; they're coming through the window.
Oh! The Room is full and won't hold any more!'

Some ecclesiology!

(With apologies to Lilli-Belle, Scotty & The Stargazers)

Michael Furtado | 25 February 2022  

Democracy allows excuses to be made for the dissolution of responsibility. If you’re an irate First Nations person, is it successive Australian governments or successive Australian electorates whom you blame?

Bishops are not merely apostles by office. They are Apostles by substance in their accountability to God for ensuring that their local Church teaches correctly. As Apostle by substance, the bishop reserves the management of doctrine for himself and delegates administration of the secular personality of his church to his ‘diaconate’, the lay professionals and their lay helpers.

Like Christ the man obliged to pay Roman taxes as calculated by Roman best (or other) practices, the secular personality of the local Church should abide by the administrative best practices of human civilisation. The divine personality of the local Church is inherited from the Apostles and cannot be bequeathed to other than the succeeding bishop, or returned, at last resort, to the care of the Chief Apostle (who might, say, appoint an apostle in pectore for Catholics living under a tyranny).

However, doctrinal implications can exist in anything done by anyone in the local Church because the material world is suffused by the spiritual world, so nothing happening in the local Church can be autonomous of the bishop.

The tool has to fit the function. If the bishop is accountable to God for the spiritual health of his Church, he cannot be expected to cede control of the divine personality of the local Church to his laity, or control of its secular personality. (He can withdraw the label of Catholic from a Catholic hospital which performs abortions.) He can consent in charity to extend the role of the diaconate by creating a committee or a synod in which laity can participate but that is only him acceding to a petition.

In the end, the institutional agency of the laity is only as diaconate of the bishop. The laity cannot claim a share of power or influence in a diocese but they can petition for a share according to rules made under the discretion of a bishop but not binding on him, any more than a parliament, unless expressed, is bound by its own laws or God is bound by his sacraments.

Perhaps the only independent agency of the laity over their bishop is to demand that what his Church teaches is correct. Setting up populist Voices to the Bishop to advise him on doctrine (which is the end goal here) will be a case of a lot of cooks spoiling the broth by messing with the Faith.

I'd like my broth cooked by someone competent to do so, thank you, not by a congregational system of kitchen apprentices.

roy chen yee | 11 February 2022  
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This is a distortion of Warhurst's argument. At no time in any of his essays has he ventured into the space of sacramentological issues that you raise. His issues, as a gifted educator in the field of policy process and production, is to point to what works and what else doesn't.

Where is the evidence that he wants a more 'democratic' Church, when my careful reading of him is that he wants a reform of management structure?

Where does he ask for anymore than clarity, honesty, integrity and efficiency? Even the question women's ordination, itself simply a matter of expanding the tradition of the Church (and NOT an issue of faith and morals) doesn't concern him?

Where indeed are the lay deacons in our Church, introduced to assist with advice and expertise that may not be available to the sacramentally ordained?

Or are you flirting with Luther and Calvin's 'Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms', itself rejected by the Magisterium that you claim to protect?

Is the soup you offer, prepared by a chef of the most exclusively Gallic provenance, so perfect and sustaining as to 'feed the hungry, cure the sick and comfort the afflicted'? Or don't such considerations matter?

Michael Furtado | 15 February 2022  

'the soup you offer'

Getting things backwards again? This is the point: the Church offers the soup but some of the laity would like to make and offer their own.

roy chen yee | 15 February 2022  

‘Where is the evidence…when my careful reading’….’

‘Careful’ reading includes remembering your history lest you repeat it, although 22 June 2021 wasn’t that long ago: ‘The Church should learn from democracy’s spirit of equality and participation.’

‘Where indeed are the lay deacons in our Church’

Perhaps you could, ‘carefully’, re-read paragraph 2?

‘flirting with Luther and Calvin's 'Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms', itself rejected by the Magisterium….’’

Thought precedes action even in the secular world where decisions are supposed to be based on 'evidence' which is a mental packaging and analysis of observations. Philosophical thought precedes other thought because it seeks to make sense of them, philosophy being the art or science of how to think. Within your personal context as a baptised Catholic Christian, it would be irrational of you not to hold that the systems or structures of Catholic Christian theology precede all thinking, and therefore all action, because they modulate and moderate, philosophy. If you were a Buddhist, it would be irrational of you not to hold the same for Buddhist theology, and so on.

Una Sanctam states the obvious. By Christian reason, there are two kingdoms of thought, spiritual thought being superior to secular thought, and both kingdoms have their swords or means of implementing the duties which arise from their respective domains of thought, the word of God being sharper than a double-edged sword. If Hebrews 4:12 is correct, Una Sanctam must exist and only the Church can decide if, when and how a ‘value-neutral’ State is licit. Civil duties are the left-overs from religious duties.

roy chen yee | 16 February 2022  

'Civil duties are left-overs from religious duties'. Are they really? Not when the Feast itself has been so befouled in its preparation and presentation as to turn off the guests.

If you don't understand your own metaphor, then think of those excluded from the Feast through the bishops' pusillanimity in being bullied into acquiescence by latter-day Grand Inquisitors like yourself and the serpentine cunning of those self-same bomb manufacturers of the foul weapons you detonate that have driven so many of the hungry and starving off this page.

Michael FURTADO | 07 March 2022  


Defuse? With some argumentation rather than hyperbole / ‘attitudinism’?

roy chen yee | 09 March 2022  

This phrase 'people of God' sticks in my craw. Everyone on this earth is a person of God. Baptism is something else: it raises you to your true status. You are redeemed. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics are much more sensible chrismating children very young into unrestricted church membership. I think the problem with most Australian Catholic hierarchs is that they treat adult Catholics like children in the Victorian era who were supposed to be 'seen and not heard'. That's simply not good enough these days.

Edward Fido | 13 February 2022  

I think both John RD and Roy Chen Yee have got this synodality issue wildly and utterly wrong. It's not about the system of governance: it's about accountability and it's coming from the Pope himself, who is the Head of the Catholic Church. It is the Branch Managers here who oppose it lock, stock and barrel. So far they have not, like some aged, possibly senile, Cardinals, such as the deplorable and demoted Raymond Burke, dared to raise something like the dubious Dubia, which puts its proponents within a hair's breadth of heresy. Sadly, an Australian podcaster, Matt Fradd, who, significantly lives in the Deep South, is one of Burke's cheer squad. Why on earth, in Australia, one of the most egalitarian and sanely progressive nations on earth, with a system of open government, would you oppose open government in the Church? It is that pathological secrecy which covered up the dreadful paedophilia crisis in the Church which was one of the reasons for the relevant Royal Commission. This is the 21st Century in Australia, not 19th Century Ireland where Catholics were fighting for equality and needed to form a tight circle. Catholics are mainstream now. This Mannix ghetto mentality must go.

Edward Fido | 14 February 2022  
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'. . . wildly and utterly wrong.' Edward? And ' '. . . it's not about the system of governance.' The article's title and content clearly concerns Church governance and the required accountability it implies.
Surely prudence is always relevant to this necessary aspect of Catholic life and the process of discernment encouraged by Pope Francis?
Further, I doubt your repeatedly alleged "Mannix ghetto mentality", recently questioned in ES 's JT Ozolins' article "Rediscovering truth..." by Bill Burke (12/2) from his acquaintance with members of BA Santamaria's Movement (supported by prominent Australian Jesuits within and beyond the Institute of Social Order) influenced Pope John Paul II's statement, let alone the Messianic secret which is highly relevant to Roy's Christological reflection.

John RD | 15 February 2022  

To support your refreshing post, Edward, when the Dubia was issued, it put four concerns to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and not to Pope Francis, who issued 'Amoris Laetitiae' (2016).

In 'Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future' (Ivereigh, 2020), +Francis responds to the Dubia. In it he explains the reasoning behind the approach he took in chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia: 'There was no need to change Church law, only how it was applied' (pp. 88-89). 'Because of the immense variety of situations and circumstances people find themselves in', the Synod on the Family agreed 'on the need for case-by-case discernment' that enables pastors 'to walk with people who are living together or divorced, to help them see where God’s grace is operating in their lives, and to help them embrace the fullness of Church teaching'.

He does, however, highlight the need for pastors to discern whether people in irregular situations have sufficient knowledge and full culpability and to what extent they can receive the assistance of the sacraments in accordance with footnote 351.

This type of discernment is applied through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Along with other divorced persons I participate fully in Catholic Sacramental Life.

Michael Furtado | 15 February 2022  

'[we] participate fully in Catholic Sacramental Life'

Actually, the question is whether the sacraments participate fully in us. Grace is not allowed to swamp a road block instituted by free will. As C.S. Lewis said, the doors of hell are locked from the inside.

roy chen yee | 15 February 2022  

‘who, significantly lives in the Deep South’

In Fairhope, Alabama (population 22,000), there’s a Yak The Kathmandu Kitchen where ‘First time ever, we bring the taste of traditional Nepali style’, 400 Eastern Shore Shopping Ctr, (251) 990-6192, 10 years in business.

Uber Eats advertises vindaloo delivery in Maumelle, Arkansas (population 18, 142 in 2019).

Two Brooks Farm, 404 East Court Street, Sumner, Mississippi (population 303 in 2019), 662-375-8100, sells basmati rice. I wonder what the proportion is of portly to skinny Klansmen in Sumner, Mississippi (population 303 in 2019).

roy chen yee | 18 February 2022  

Thanks for the sales pitch. I might make a move next door. Your 'culinary appeal' attracts more than your theology.

Michael Furtado | 25 February 2022  

John the Plenary Council in Australia 1937 made 685 recommendations (mostly in Latin). A language still applicable (Instrumentum Laboris ).
The current PC and its plethora of sub committees have canvassed a raft of topics: female ordination, married men ordination, restoring former laicised priests back into the fold, non judgemental inclusiveness of LGBTQI and other "marginalised" members, embracing divorced church members and permitting them non discriminatory access to the sacraments, a proper response to the sexual abuse of children within the church, ways to embrace and include indigenous people, how to deal with clericalism and female equality within the church. Many more topics too numerous too mention.
From the outside looking in on this privileged enclave (who have published bullet points of their ruminations), the only topics that appear to off limits are the authority and power of the hierarchy, the magisterium (clarity amendments to canon law have been raised), and the conflicts that have raged between the current Pope and his occasional headstrong cardinals and Arch bishops seeking advancement. The laity of course get a footnote in being asked to do more at mass, like read, participate, hand out communion, sing, join committees and the like and undertake other mundane tasks required.
And should I forget, in Episcopalis communio, Pope Francis stated that the sensus fidei should not be confused with the changing currents of public opinion. Which means once again, the laity will have to be content to eat cake.

Francis Armstrong | 26 February 2022  
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Despite his perennial gloom, Francis Armstrong posts soundly. Of course, the point of Marie-Antoinette's thoughtless frippery was that there was no cake at all to eat, which triggered the savage consequence she suffered.

I wish Francis as well as John Warhurst every encouragement for their fortitude. The struggle is long and wearying and the prize surely worthy of the effort for there will be those watching what the bishops do and holding them to account in their own way!

Michael Furtado | 07 March 2022  

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