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When synodality confronts hierarchy 



What an extraordinary coincidence of synodal events the Church in Australia is currently undertaking. The intersessional period between the two Assemblies of the Fifth Plenary Council is underway and the First Assembly Proposals from Small Groups and Individual Members has just been published. At the same time, we are called to participate in the consultation process with the entire Church for the 16thOrdinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality. Australian Catholics have been invited to link the two occasions by responding to the First Assembly Proposals through the Synod of Bishops consultation process. 

Synodality is at the heart of both events. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe’s presidential message accompanying the First Assembly Proposals document included the reflection that: ‘It has been a journey of listening, dialogue and discernment which has provided the opportunity for all of us to explore the practice of ‘synodality’ and learn by doing’. Not only was synodality embraced by the Assembly, but a specific agenda question (No. 13) asked: ‘How might the People of God, lay and ordained, women and men, approach governance in the spirit of synodality and co-responsibility for more effective proclamation of the Gospel?’ 

The Individual Reflection Guide issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) for the Synod of Bishops consultation states that ‘Pope Francis is calling the Church to practice synodality, that is listening to-and hearing-one another in all facets of Church life.’ We are invited to participate in the consultation process to reflect on the three dimensions of a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission. 

However, synodality confronts the traditional practice of hierarchy within the church. When the ACBC responded last December to The Light from the Southern Cross report, which promoted synodality and co-responsible governance, it re-stated its position that hierarchy was embedded in the church’s approach to governance. This immediately set up a potential tension between episcopal authority and participation in governance by the People of God. 

The official reflection guide further explores this tension, while flatly asserting that ‘A synodal church is a participatory and co-responsible church’. The exploration poses some questions which are both philosophical and practical. The headings are Authority and Participation; Discerning and Deciding. The questions are more thoughtful and probing than the PC Agenda Questions.

Here is a selection: 

‘How does our Church community identify the goals to be pursued, the way to reach them, and the steps to be taken?’ 

‘How is authority or governance exercised within our local Church? How are teamwork and co-responsibility put into practice?’ 

‘How can we foster a more synodal approach in our participation and leadership?’ 

‘How do we promote participation in decision-making within hierarchical structures?’ 

These questions should be considered alongside traditional, non-synodal approaches to governance. Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney expressed this traditional view on December 8, speaking at the consecration of Fr Danny Meagher as bishop. His words expanded on the hierarchical emphasis of the earlier ACBC response to The Light from the Southern Cross. The cross-reference to Plenary Council discussions of governance was implicit but clear. 


'This traditional hierarchical view challenges the exercise of authority in a synodal way. At its extreme it undercuts any serious attempt at synodality.' 


‘Far from adopting a flat, Congregationalist view of the Church, as some would propose aping secular models of governance in business or bureaucracy, Vatican II insisted on the divine institution of the sacred hierarchy’. 

He continued: ‘It even dared say, following Christ and the ancient Fathers, that to listen to the bishops is to listen to Christ’. 

This traditional hierarchical view challenges the exercise of authority in a synodal way. At its extreme it undercuts any serious attempt at synodality. There is an undoubted tension to be reconciled before we go any further along our two synodal journeys. 

The language of synodality, strongly proposed by Pope Francis, is inspirational for the People of God, while the language of hierarchy is deadening. There are two ways forward, which may take place concurrently, given the different time frames of the Plenary Council (Second Assembly, July 2022) and the Synod of Bishops on Synodality (October 2023). 

The first way is further national and international discernment of the meaning of the two terms, including during preparation for the Synod of Bishops. This is crucial as both terms apply at various levels of the church, including the diocese and the parish. This discussion would include exploration of ‘decision-making within hierarchical structures’ in the words of the Synod documentation. There may be ‘strong’ and ‘soft’ interpretations of both terms. Ideally there must be a ‘co-responsible’ accommodation which allows synodality to prosper. Otherwise it will die. The nature of that accommodation will inevitably vary from place to place. 

The second way will be the Implementation phase of the Plenary Council in Australia. This implementation phase from August 2022 onwards will be in the hands of those who hold hierarchical positions, primarily the bishops, but also parish priests. This means that the remaining tension between hierarchy and synodality will resolved initially by those holding traditional authority. There will be differing views around Australia. Almost certainly the Implementation phase will reveal, once again, a patchwork church. 


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.

Main image: Wooden figures (Prot Tachapanit/Getty Images)

Topic tags: John Warhurst, PC, synodality, clergy, Plenary Council, Catholic Church



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I admire your strength of purpose and your tenacity John. However, I have to say that in my experience people who have power, and a lot of it, tend to want to hold on to it, irrespective of their religious persuasions. And Catholic clergy do not have the benefit of being married with a family of their own with wife and children, who can ground them in the reality of most people's lives. So I think it's a kind of 'Father knows best' mentality that pervades the clergy at all levels of the hierarchy, and no doubt this attitude is underpinned by Church teaching. I am not however, suggesting that marriage is an all purpose fixit for this situation.
The laity are battling with the clergy's entrenched beliefs in their own status, power and the age-old deference afforded to them in generations past. Remember the times when a Catholic family was expected to have at least one son a priest and one daughter a nun? I think those days have long passed.

Unfortunately, power sharing between laity and clergy, whilst a good idea, seems to me wishful thinking. I am nearly eighty and I doubt It will happen in my lifetime, short of a sort of coup d'etat by the laity.

So good luck and best wishes for your venture, John. You are to be commended for taking the stance you have.

Henri | 14 December 2021  

“The ‘traditional hierarchical view challenges the exercise of authority in a synodal way……
To Peter “feed my flock” we will always need central direction (Leadership) a leadership that reflects the humility/Honesty of St Peter, sodality (Brotherhood) comes with Truth, and those who will serve It in humility. Presently the Church is rudderless as spiritual corruption has produced dead/dormant consciences throughout the whole church which has ultimately manifested itself in the elite holding God's Word (Will) in contempt ( Via The Divine Mercy Image) and in doing so collude with the ongoing breaking of the Second Commandment.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”
See my post on this site under the Article Broken: A profound study of Christianity and the priesthood (eurekastreet.com.au)
So, the present situation can only be confronted by a vigorous serving of the Truth in all situations, for this to happen, we will have to have a renewed spiritual awakening, emanating from humility. Anything else is just moving the deck chairs, as the underlying present situation, will remain.

It is said “the fish rots from the head down” to counter this we need to see true humble leadership, as
Hope’s springs eternal or so the saying goes’
Does the church present a weed?
When she should present a rose,
A light set upon a hill,
All mankind shall see and know God’s, Holy Will.
No word need be spoken, as all mankind shall see,
God’s lovers as they bend their knee.
Justice and Love reflected from above.
The missionary shall call, we would have this for one and all
A crystal (Rome) sat on a hill, manifesting our Fathers
Holy Will.
To create this ‘Hope’ should be our priority, as where can mankind look to see the Truth within the Gospels, actually working. We will always need central direction (Leadership). If it cannot be seen in Rome/Peter (Pope Francis and his Cardinals), where? If the leaders of our Church cannot do this what HOPE is there for mankind?
It is said you cannot be what you do not see/envisage, so we need to see our Shepherds holding the bright lamp of Truth high above their own vulnerabilities, teachings us by example, in humility, how we are also to be made ‘Holy’ (Sanctified) as in
“Sanctify them in the Truth; thy Word is Truth as thou didst send me into the World so I have sent them into the World and for their sake, I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in truth”
So, in our present shameful situation, is God preparing the birth (Building up) of a Church that will be truthful with herself. A Church that proceeds and leads in humility, ‘openly’ acknowledging her failings before God and all of her children.
As a humble heart (Church) will never cover its tracks or hide its shortcomings, and in doing so confers authenticity, as it walks in its own vulnerability /weakness/brokenness in trust/faith before God and mankind. It is a heart (Church) to be trusted, as it ‘dispels’ darkness within its own ego/self, in serving God (Truth) first, before any other.
“God will not despise a broken spirit and contrite heart” and neither will the faithful. The leadership has nothing to fear, no matter how compromised, as the cleansing grace of humility (Full ‘open’ acknowledgment of past failings/sins) in Sodality which is the communal bond of love that holds His flock together.
We need to see true discipleship, and working disciples, as demonstrated, in my post, via the link
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 14 December 2021  

Traditional authority guards magisterial orthodoxy. Magisterial orthodoxy tells the laity whether the infusion they are inhaling is the incense of Satan. Not all smoke smells like smoke.

roy chen yee | 14 December 2021  

John Warhurst constructs here "the language of synodality" and "the language of hierarchy" as opposites; the former as enlivening, the latter as "deadening." Such a dichotomized modelling does not reflect the ecclesiology of Vatican II: the Council, while distinguishing roles of the hierarchy and the laity in the Church, recognizes the complementarity of both in the structure and unity of the Church, the People of God and the Mystical Body of Christ. Nor is there an intrinsic opposition between "synodality", a process revived by Pope Paul VI, and "hierarchy" as Church reform groups often assume.

John RD | 14 December 2021  

'A patchwork church": how apt!

Edward Fido | 14 December 2021  

"How are teamwork and co-responsibility put into practice?" A most important question and one for which there already exist models which may provide part, if not all, of the answer. My experience as a university surgeon and teacher has perhaps coloured my perspectives. However, the practice of such an occupation mirrors the Catholic Church in so many ways and in recent times we have seen the damage that "synodality" of a sort has wreaked on the lives of those for whom we, the doctors and nurses, (health heirarchy) are ultimately responsible. Despite the most extraordinary advances in treatment of all manner of human affliction over the last 50 years our news bulletins are no strangers to reports of the loss of otherwise salvageable human lives in our hospitals, from the most highly equipped and specially staffed to the humble country hospital. Up until the mid 1970s, all hospitals employed an administrative structure that embraced an elite hierarchy (like the Catholic Church). Hospitals were administered by highly qualified Medical Superintendents, responsible for overall medical care and Matrons, responsible for overall nursing care (the scriptures, tradition and the Magisterium). A similar hierarchy existed at the point of care in every ward and department of the hospital (the dioceses) with overall responsibility borne by the senior medical specialist who accepted such responsibility on behalf of all those doctors below him. He made sure that mistakes were not made and, if they were, steps were taken to ensure it didn't happen again (unhappily some bishops abandoned that responsibility in the Church). Similarly ward sisters exercised the same authority over their nurses. Disasters and unnecessary deaths were rare. THEN CAME THE GREAT ENLIGHTENMENT. Governments, driven by economics rather than care of the sick got rid of Medical Superintendents and Matrons and replaced them with medically ignorant administrators (the laity) whose task was to provide budget demands, accounting and business management as having primacy of place over patient care for which they bore no responsibility. At the work face all authority for management was removed from the hierarchy of doctors and nurses other, of course, than civil legal responsibility for anything that went wrong. The "team", a group responsible for patient care and made up of all manner of diverse health care workers, was born. No one individual was responsible. Individual responsibility was lost to the communal all in together "team". The team involved itself in frequent meetings remote from the patients in a room where it might not be alerted by urgent alarms at the bedside (Plenary perhaps). Nurses became clerks with a vast part of their time spent entering data into computers which was designed to serve good management not sick patients. The hierarchy (doctors and nurses) was emasculated and unacceptable numbers of people die. No one is responsible - the 'team" (the diverse laity with multiple agendas) makes no mistakes. The Catholic Church might do well not to abolish an educated hierarchy and replaee it with a management team serving its own interests.

john frawley | 14 December 2021  

The Australian Catholic hierarchy are notorious for their authoritanianism throughout the Catholic World. Intelligent clergy in Ireland used to make jokes about them. A former Papal Nuncio tried to get some more normal bishops nominated but he was checkmated by the Old Guard. John RD's take is pretty right. It is interesting that the Pope - the Head of the Church - is the one driving the push for synodality and it is the local hierarchs trying to subvert it. Whither obedience to the Vicar of Christ? 'When I want to' is unacceptable on every level. If the hierarchy are disobedient to the Pope they are getting close to both heresy and schism, in which case they should not be followed.

Edward Fido | 15 December 2021  

John the plenary response to the abuse crisis is paternalistic and inadequate in that:
It refers to the scourge of paedophilia as past tense;
It offers a flimsy apology on behalf of their brethren who committed these crimes (Heaven's above! a not us, but them) as they distance themselves from responsibility and claim the moral high ground;
They do not address the recommendations of the Royal Commission: Theme 4: Criminal justice and the protection of children;
Theme 4 covers actions taken by the Australian Government to address recommendations made by the Royal Commission to better protect children from child sexual abuse by reforming criminal justice systems in Australia. This includes recommendations made to strengthen mandatory reporting and reportable conduct laws, and strengthen protections under state and territory Working with Children Checks. These recommendations can be found in the Royal Commission’s Working with Children Checks Report (released in August 2015), and the Criminal Justice Report (released in August 2017), and Volume 7 of the Final Report.

Theme 4 - Criminal justice and the protection of children [PDF]

Theme 4 - Criminal justice and the protection of children [DOCX]
They say they will make it an excommunicable offence by church legislation in the future; Yet how will they identify the offenders??
They refer to indigenous Australians in a paternalistic fashion like dingoes around a campfire;
They assume prayer will solve the problem when it should be dealt with internally by the church in the nature of an inquisition;
They do not address the 12 recommendations made by the RC that were scotched by the Vatican;
Forgiveness for these crimes is not in the realm of the hierarchy to forgive nor in the realm of the Vatican to bury in the catacombs and forget.
They do not address the issue of equal rights for women in terms of article 2 of the UDHR.

Francis Armstrong | 15 December 2021  
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“They assume prayer will solve the problem”......
“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things” St Mother Teresa:
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 16 December 2021  

With the exception of Edward Fido's insights, I'd imagine that those who operate ES might be disheartened by the absolutist Nietzschean 'No' that their champions like John Warhurst regularly encounter. Unless the rank and file of Catholics, not present overhere and, registering a minimalist attendance at Mass, re-enter the consultative process, one has to assume, on the basis of minimalist lay response, that nothing will change and that the Synod, designed by the hierarchy, will have achieved exactly what they intended, which is more of the same. In my view, that would mean that it was hardly worth running with at all. What an opportunity wasted! Take heart, John Warhurst. There is more to the Body of Christ than meets the resolutely blind but crushing eye! My guess is that the silent but more progressive bishops are counting on people such as you and me staying on in the face of their silence. They should remember in that case that their model, of a 'hierarchical' Church, isn't the only one around and, when push comes to shove, the 'Attendant-Laity', such as it is and already approaching old age, will be the last to leave before they switch the lights off. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi!

Michael Furtado | 15 December 2021  
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‘the 'Attendant-Laity', such as it is and already approaching old age, will be the last to leave before they switch the lights off.’

We know that some element of the Church Militant will remain when Christ returns because some of the living will be taken up to join him. So, the real issue is not to test God by doing nothing about the modernist folly to switch off the lights before the Parousia. They won’t succeed but the by-how-much-they-won’t-succeed is variable and that’s where the not-testing-God comes into play for the faithful.

After all, the Church knows that Father Sosa's non-existent Satan won't succeed but it doesn't know by how much, and that's why it continues to struggle against this ... um ...'phantom'.

roy chen yee | 16 December 2021  

The problem with the rapidly sinking ship SS Catholicism Inc Oz, John F, is that she is not and was not well administered like the great Australian hospitals of yore. We tend to follow the dreadful Mannix-Mulkearns model, when either a fading geriatric or a total twit (Mulkearns) almost runs the ship into the reef. Oops! I think we might have struck it. With Cornish cousins, I know what that means. I do not think the Catholic hierarchy are of the capability of the likes of John W or yourself. Much the same was said about the former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingsworth, who well and truly screwed up his archdiocese's response to its paedophilia problem. He was forced to resign as Governor-General because of public outrage. We need better leaders! OK, Bishop Nguyen of Parramatta and Archbishop Foley in Cairns and a few others might get a guernsey. Where are the current likes of Archbishop Polding or the late, saintly Joseph Grech? There are and were many excellent nuns who could have filled the role of matrons to Catholics, but it was and still is mainly an exclusive, geriatric club of misogynists. God save us from this twittery!

Edward Fido | 15 December 2021  

John leads with a heading awaiting a conclusion. No doubt reluctantly, but with a sense of the ineluctable, he provides the most likely ending in his final paragraph. This result will be a bitter pill for reform minded Catholics. But, it won't be the end of the synodality path if protagonists, like John, lick their wounds, take a leaf from Fagin, and 'review the situation.'

If advocates of synodality are to become agents of change there are three areas of inquiry which have been overlooked. One – what is inherent in the clerical control model that is so endearing to clerics and a good many practising Catholics? Two – what are the particular circumstances, that in a happenstance manner, are bolstering the continuance of the clerical control model, today? Three - having tried the name and shame approach are there overlooked avenues of intervention that lie latent in Church history that could energise and refocus renewal efforts. Look closely at the tactics employed by Francis. From the day of his election, He has continually pointed to a modus operandi that is helping to turn the barque of Peter without capsizing or running aground. A well informed, scaled to local church needs, set of tactics remain waiting to be identified and actualised.

Bill Burke | 17 December 2021  
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This, as always, insightful post of your's came to mind, Bill, while researching the recent German model of synodality, which was said to be doomed before it got started. Of course, being beautifully German, they set out a plan and stuck to it!

Next, Rome (the nuncio, a cardinal. though not +Francis), advised against, predictably followed by easily identifiable conservative condemnation.

What's unique is that their lay leader (with fifty percent of synodal reps, women and men, behind him) turns out to be a highly competent and measured commentator, not just about the German synodal position but also, like many Eurocrats, in his appreciation of the Italian saying, 'Festina lente!'

In sum, the closing stages of the German Synod. commencing shortly, proposes to keep the ball in play by respond to Francis' call to include 'evangelisation' in their deliberations.

I think such dialogue may have much to do with the ways in which Europeans, long familiar with the absolutism of Nietzsche and Pius IX, tend to be.

There was a time when Aussies grew hot under the collar, both clerical as well as lay, and now inclusive of women, that apotheosised 'Roma locuta; causa finita'.

Those days are long gone.

Michael Furtado | 20 January 2022  

More than a pity, surely, that the architects of der Synodale Weg required a reminder from Pope Francis that the Church's first missionary task is to make Christ known and loved? Now that "evangelization", identified by Paul VI in "Evangelii Nuntiandi" as characteristic of the Church (I, 14), has been included in the final stage of the process, hopefully, given earlier synodal proposals rejected by Francis, it will be more than a theological patina and tactical ploy.

John RD | 21 January 2022  

SUCH equanimity, measure and restraint expressed in what might otherwise be misread as a begrudging concession. Stay on track, JRD!

Michael Furtado | 25 January 2022  

And what an unexpected coup for German Catholics that the Electoral Prosecutor for Bavaria has now released a report showing that Cardinal Ratzinger, while Archbishop of Munich, knew all along of the rampant abuse of minors in his diocese and denied ever knowing about it. (No wonder he resigned before the proverbial had a chance to 'hit the fan'!)

That said I hope it evens up the score between the Curia and the German synodalists. Its high time we moved ahead to a forthright and open Church!

Michael Furtado | 03 February 2022  

As usual, your reflections encourage me to remain with the Church, although so many I know, particularly my own children, have totally given up on the Faith of our Fathers.
I have to share an interesting example where our Archbishop seems disconnected with the reality of Parish life .
Previously, we had a situation where lay participation in Ministry through Commission by the Archbishop of
Lectors and Acolytes was encouraged. We even had a number of married Deacons ordained to assist in our Parishes . That was over thirty years ago, when I myself was commissioned as an Acolyte by Archbishop Francis Carrol . How things have changed since then. About four years ago I recommended to our Parish Priest that a Minister of the Eucharist, a convert, who assisted me on the Altar ? be made an Acolyte. However I was informed that the Archbishop was not allowing any more Acolytes or Lectors in the Archdioceses ! Recently a request from our Parish Priest for this gentleman was turned down. Pope Francis has stressed time and time again his desire for lay ministry to play a much larger role in the Church.
I have a strong feeling that there is a feeling within the more conservative clergy that lay ministry or even married Deacons are a threat to their power and status . Henri, your comment about deference rings a strong note for me. Unfortunately the Clergy and the Hierarchy have lost that respect, perhaps for ever, by their secrecy and coverups as exposed by the Royal Commission .

Gavin O'Brien | 18 December 2021  
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There are Ministers of the Eucharist (priests and bishops) and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. There are no extraordinary ministers of the eucharist. An acolyte has no other function than to provide a valet service to the priest during the Mass and a butler service to masses as a sort of household function. If he does anything else, like read or distribute communion, it’s under another role to which he (or, these days, she) has been appointed.

Having said that, an acolyte should be, and be seen to be, a bastion of the Church in its local form and, sadly, if an acolyte disagrees with what his bishop is doing or, even more sadly, suffers the loss of his family from the Church, he should feel honour-bound to offer his resignation to the parish priest.

Scripture says that an overseer in the faith should be able to control his family. If your family embarrasses your position in the Church, you have to give it the option of letting you leave that position. That’s another reason against the married priesthood because, unlike laity, priests can’t resign their office in the Church.

roy chen yee | 21 December 2021  

I find it interesting that Roy talks about the importance of 'control'. In his case, it's about what he sees as Gavin's inability to 'control' his, presumably, adult family. Other posts here have referred to the unwillingness of the hierarchy to loosen their 'control' over the laity for fear, presumably. that they will lose all 'control'. I'm reminded of the factory manager, also obsessed about his need to 'control', who told the shop steward that he, the factory manager, ran the factory, to which the shop steward responded by saying 'OK, everybody out!' The thing that Roy, the hierarchy, and the factory manager have in common is that they all fail to understand is that one can only exert 'control' with the consent of the controlled. Now that consent can. for a time, be secured through threats and fear, but only for a time. Eventually, that sort of 'consent' results in rebellion, sometimes openly, sometimes surreptitiously. We've seen it in politics, in industrial relations, in the military, and in religious institutions. People like Roy will see such responses as 'sinful', military figures see it as 'mutiny', political tyrants shout 'rebellion', the hierarchy as 'heresy' or 'disobedience', and all will seek to come down like a ton of hot bricks on anyone who dares to question the reason for, let alone the cause, of that response. The tragedy is that neither Roy, nor the military, nor the politician, nor the religious hierarchy, will take the opportunity to reflect, understand, learn, and change. None are prepared to say, 'OK, I got it wrong, now let's us work together to get it right'.

Ginger Meggs | 27 December 2021  

Ginger Meggs: ‘'OK, I got it wrong, now let's us work together to get it right'.’

You can only get it wrong if you misinterpret Scripture, which is why the ‘freedom of conscience’ brigade are so keen to hold that there are no orthodox interpretations. 1 Timothy 3:4. Help yourself to it.

If the erring kids can’t justify themselves by Scripture, tell them they’re wrong instead of folding. I doubt there’s anything in Scripture that justifies a Christian in boycotting the sacraments, which is what dropping out of attending Mass amounts to, given that a sacrament is a visible sign of a gift from God, and dropping out of Mass is boycotting a gift.

If you want to argue, do so with your head screwed on properly.

As for the factory and the military and whatever other secular rabbit you want to pull out of a hat --- irrelevant. We’re talking about canonical truths.

roy chen yee | 01 January 2022  

I like the analysis, Ginger, but it goes deeper than that. Our Roy is a 'nuts'n'bolts' man. He needs 'structure' to organise his thoughts and offer a solution. Like all conservatives, his 'construction' is half-right, his metier to challenge, his demand for something better. The Church, even in renewalistic mode, cannot just run on feelings. I sometimes see in Roy's offerings, frustratingly uncompromising and 'against the tide' as they invariably are, a search for order, scaffolding and the setting out of concrete proposals for 'doing our Catholicism better'. We aren't just radicals and conservatives on this page. We're also dreamers, planners, visionaries, designers, implementers, not just 'broken'. In my view, especially since Vatican II, all sides have had a lot to say. Currently we have a 'dreamer' in +Francis, who frustrates the conservatives no end. At all times the Church, among its members and hierarchy has had its dreamers and planners. Both sides belong. But the success of keeping such a diverse family together depends on tempering those who stray towards the extremes on both sides. That has always been the Catholic way. Include rather than condemn. The canonical as well as the pastoral. Otherwise, 'the centre cannot hold'.


Michael Furtado | 05 January 2022  


NnBs is the simple matter of answering questions about the Fallen world according to the objectivity of Scripture which, being human text, would be subjective if not guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.

‘The canonical as well as the pastoral.’

False dichotomy. ‘Pastoral’ is Tradition to canonical’s ‘Scripture’. Just as Tradition cannot be unmoored from Scripture, neither can the pastoral from the canonical, an example being the pope’s ruling out of such a thing as ‘gay marriage’. Compared to the objective nature of proper interpretation of Scripture, spivaks and derridas are phenomenological subjectivities, fine if they comply with the magisterium and not fine if they don’t.

‘stray towards the extremes…'the centre cannot hold'.’

As usual, metaphors are literary rather than scientific descriptions of reality. If there is a centre, it is the mid-point between interpretations permitted by canon to be explored. In point of fact, there is no centre. There is only known truth, or the truth that has been revealed so far by Revelation, and the magisterium’s acceptance that not everything is known and that exploration of potentialities is necessary as long as the principles assumed in the exploration do not violate principles known to be true.

roy chen yee | 10 January 2022  

With Christmas around the corner and the Paraclete hovering above there may be scope, John W., for the kind of compromise you seek. After all, we can only be sure that we mingle, however disconsolately, among ourselves and work with those who turn up. While we're all male there's sufficient variety among us to see if we can model the compromise that we seek with the bishops. Their resolution indicates scope for working with JohnRD, who maddeningly but gratifyingly never shuts his door, and John Frawley, whose wisdom about systems administration is hard to fault. Equally, with some experience myself of universities, you will doubtless agree that 'silos' exist there too! The Jesuits would also recognise also from their close association with universities. Many moons ago Bill Uren sat in on a postgraduate research seminar of mine at which a colleague of your's at ANU didn't so much as insert a spoke in my wheel as hijack the entire vehicle! Mrs W, a great executive administrator in Church education contexts, will share her own wisdom of working with bishops. Finally, I think that 'Communion, Participation & Mission' offer promising tripartite theological scope for proceeding towards the next stage of Synodality.

Michael Furtado | 18 December 2021  

There is no doubt, Edward F, that the hospital hierarchy of yesteryear made mistakes - they were, however, accountable. The dilution of personal responsibility in the team approach hides, protects and promotes incompetence. Management is the new goal which has pushed care of the sick, once the only goal of health/hospital care, into the background.

john frawley | 18 December 2021  

You should've seen management in the CES before it was scuppered, John F. We were supposed to be there to help people. There were some wonderful CES Managers, including a 6'4" Latvian who looked like a Viking chieftain, who kept telling the Zone Manager what a complete moron the latter was and where to go. We got involved in numerous wage subsidy schemes of questionable efficacy and funding some strange training courses. Like the Catholic Church, we should have stuck to our last. The Church's primary role is to celebrate God in the Eucharist and bring his Joy into the world. Cardinal Raymond Burke is a real-life 'Spitting Image' puppet-type parody of a Church leader. Only a Roy Chen Yee could love him. I fear it is only with the demise of the current generation of our woeful leaders that we will move ahead. If it were not for the Society of Jesus, ES and the feisty men and women who write for and to it, we would be in a deep bog.

Edward Fido | 19 December 2021  
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‘Cardinal Raymond Burke… .Only a Roy Chen Yee could love him.’ Factually untrue. You’re forgetting his mother and Jesus. One wonders how you could forget Jesus.

roy chen yee | 20 December 2021  

Roy Chen Yee. No doubt Jesus truly loves Cardinal Burke but I reckon he must also sometimes cradle his forehead in frustration and disbelief with the cardinal's rantings on ocacsions.

john frawley | 20 December 2021  
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What are these rantings so we can go through them?

roy chen yee | 21 December 2021  

I am extremely glad people of the intelligence and perspicacity of Michael F; Joan Seymour; Jo Dallimore; John F and Bill B and so many more are staying in the Church and holding the bastards accountable. What the hierarchy want are knee jerk reactionaries such as Roy Chen Yee. That is the Church of the Inquisition. God save us from that! It would be a dead, 'museum' Church. Reform is much needed and it is coming from the Pope himself. I don't believe the local hierarchy have either Francis' spiritual depth or vision and they don't seem to share his reform agenda. But they will be replaced in time. We must pray earnestly for better men. I myself am thinking of transferring to the Eastern Rite, which has many of the things I want: married clergy; the chrismation of infants at Baptism and thus full entry into the Church and beautiful Liturgy. Christianity is beautiful. Father O'Boggart and his mental bludgeon are a joke. We need to consign him and his like to the dustbin of History.

Edward Fido | 27 December 2021  
Show Responses

‘knee jerk reactionaries’

It’s always fun watching you trying to be both orthodox and furtado-lite at the same time. It’s a pity 2022 won’t be a leap year. That extra day of fun would have been nice.

roy chen yee | 09 January 2022  

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