Do not be afraid, the Church is not about to crumble*
OnLine Catholics congratulates Archbishop Philip Wilson, 55, of Adelaide, on his election as president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) and thanks Archbishop Francis Carroll, 75, of Canberra-Goulburn, for the gentle strength and wisdom he has brought to the position for the past six years. Archbishop Barry Hickey, of Perth, has been elected as Vice-President, succeeding Archbishop John Bathersby, Brisbane. The vote was taken among the 42 bishops present at the plenary meeting of the Bishops’ Conference, currently being held in Sydney. The ACBC is the body through which the bishops act on matters of national concern. The conference meets in plenary session twice each year and its works are carried out by a number of committees, commissions and organisations. The President and the Vice-President are elected for two-year terms and can serve for a maximum three terms. Also elected were the members of the Permanent Committee: Cardinal George Pell (Sydney), Archbishop John Bathersby, Archbishop Denis Hart (Melbourne), Archbishop Adrian Doyle (Hobart), Bishop Michael Putney (Townsville) and Bishop David Walker (Broken Bay).
Archbishop Carroll, in congratulating Archbishop Wilson, said Archbishop Wilson had shown himself as a “true servant and a true leader” already in his priestly and episcopal life. Archbishop Wilson will need all the reserves of personal courage, astuteness and faith he can muster as he takes on this senior position within the Church in Australia.
No-one needs telling that the Church is divided. Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP says in the current edition of the National Catholic Reporter while there have always been tensions in the Church – “necessary and healthy” - we are at a stage “when we have an urgent obligation to heal these divisions”. He says that when we think of polarisation, we think in terms such as left and right, progressive and conservative – terms that derive from the Enlightenment and not Catholic thinking. In claiming our own categories, he opts for the terms, Kingdom Catholics and Communion Catholics.
“By Kingdom Catholics, I mean those of us who have a deep sense of the church as the pilgrim people of God, on the way to the kingdom. The theologians who have been central for this tradition have been people like the Jesuit Karl Rahner, and the Dominicans Edward Schillebeeckx and Gustavo Gutiérrez. This tradition stresses openness to the world, finding the presence of the Holy Spirit working outside the church, freedom and the pursuit of justice. They became very much identified with a publication called Concilium.
“By Communion Catholics I mean those who came, after the council, to feel the urgent need to rebuild the inner life of the church. They went with theologians like Hans von Balthasar and the then Joseph Ratzinger. Their theology often stressed Catholic identity, was wary of too hearty an embrace of modernity, and they stressed the cross. They had their publication. It was called Communio.
“… Most of us will feel some attraction to both of these traditions, but will probably feel a primary identification with one or the other. We will only heal the divisions if we stretch our imaginations open to understand why the others think and feel as they do. Before we can talk, we must sympathise, and feel how it is that their way of understanding the church offers them a home, a place in which to be at peace…”
Fr Radcliffe says that both Kingdom and Communion Catholics are needed if the Church is to flourish.
“Both understandings of what it means to find a home in the church are present at the Last Supper… The bread is given to the disciples. This is my body, given for you. The sharing of Christ’s body gathers the community together around the altar. This is the community of Christ’s small band of friends, who have shared his life and now his death. But the cup of wine is blessed for you and for all, as it says in the Eucharist. This is the cup that Jesus will not drink again until the Kingdom. It looks forward to when the whole of humanity will be gathered into communion in Christ.
“So the sharing of the bread is centripetal… It is a sign of that interior life of the church which is so crucial for Communion Catholics. But the cup of wine is centrifugal. It expresses that outward thrust which is important for Kingdom Catholics, the reaching out to all humanity, ready to find the Holy Spirit working in all people.
“The central sacrament of the church, the sign of our shared home, then has this double rhythm.”
He writes at length also about conversation, encouraging “when there is disagreement, then go deeper … until we reach the bedrock of the Gospel and then maybe we will understand each other better … We may not agree but we will be able to talk”.
The full text of the article which is worth the read (and also points to his latest book, What is the point of being a Christian?) is available at Overcoming discord in the church. The wit and wisdom of Radcliffe tells more about the man, the priest and the reconciler.
* Timothy Radcliffe op from a not quoted section of the article, Overcoming discord in the church
Last week, OLC brought you the report of the Australian AIDS Fund Incorporated’s SOS assistance to the HIV/AIDS ward in the Port Moresby General Hospital. On Monday, May 8, the front page of Port Moresby’s the Post Courier, featured a photograph of Franciscan priest Fr Jude Ronayne-Forde and a helper, Theresa Soweni, dispensing some kindness in the ward. The photo was taken when they delivered the much-needed adult nappies to the hospital. To access the front page, click on either of the links provided. (pdf version of the front page)
A special word to mothers: May you be cherished and held tenderly in the hearts of your children all the days of your life.
Continuing Easter blessings of hope, joy and life to all. Alleluia!
2-12 Australian Catholic Bishops’ plenary meeting
10 Public lecture by Peter Henriot SJ: Africa: So, Why is it a Priority for Jesuits and Church? followed by a conversation with Andrew Hamilton SJ; the Great Hall, Xavier College, Kew; 8pm
ACU National graduation ceremonies, Brisbane; 10.30am, 6pm
11-16 Operation Refuse War, New York City and Washington DC
12 Doing social justice: the relevance of social analysis for today
with Peter Henriot SJ (Director of the Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia, co-author of the Catholic best-seller Social Analysis) and Frank Brennan SJ (Professor of Law at the Australian Catholic University and of Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Notre Dame Australia); ACU Strathfield (Gleeson Auditorium); noon-1:30pm
13 Tasmanian Council of Churches annual general meeting with leading ecumenist Bishop Michael Putney (Townsville) speaking on national and international ecumenism (about 11.30am); Salvation Army Citadel, Elizabeth Street, Hobart; 9.30am-3pm
Ecumenical Cranmer celebration, St Peter’s Eastern Hill, Melbourne (information: John Bunyan, firstname.lastname@example.org )
Australia Does Not Have a Bill of Rights! Do we need one? What are the options? How did we get by without one? With Fr Frank Brennan SJ, hosted by The Grail and the Grail Centre, 22 McHatton Street, North Sydney; 10.30am-3.30pm
Mass in Dublin, Ireland, to celebrate Catherine McAuley and 175 years since the foundation of the Sisters of Mercy congregation
14 Ecumenical forum, Being Christian in today’s multi-faith world, with Bishop Michael Putney (Townsville) as guest; Hobart City Church of Christ, 8 Goulburn Street, Hobart; 2pm
Peter Henriot SJ: The Prophetic Voice of Religious Today. venue: Mercy Place, 371 Simpsons Rd, Bardon, Qld; 1.30-4.30pm. contact, Br Ted Magee (07) 3327 2203
14-21 Simply Sharing Week: Simply hoping for health, the Solomon Island story, sponsored by Caritas Australia and the Christian World Service of National Council of Churches in Australia
15 International Day of Families
International Conscientious Objectors Day
Information night on human trafficking, Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne, Brisbane; 7.30-9pm. RSVP, May 13, 07 3399 8888
18 University of Melbourne International Public Lecture, Does Religion Cause Violence? The struggle for peace, by US Catholic theologian, Dr William T. Cavanaugh, Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, Uni. of M., Parkville; 6.30pm
Social analysis workshop with Peter Henriot SJ: Bringing Justice Alive from a Christian Perspective, Mercy Centre, Bardon, Qld, 9am – 12.30pm. cost, $20. contact, Br Ted Magee (07) 3327 2203.
Public lecture with Peter Henriot SJ, The Church’s Social Teaching: Is it Charity or is it Justice? Lecture Theatre at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace; 7.30pm. cost, donation. contact, Br Ted Magee (07) 3327 2203.
The Da Vinci Code movie opens in Australia
19-21 Project Rachel healing retreat, Sydney (Julie, 02 9440 7980)
20 and 21 Introductory intensive Journal workshops by Kate Scholl (as written about in And the Dance Goes On) sponsored by the Eremos Institute. Saturday 9.30-5pm, Sunday 9.30am-4pm, Parramatta. Registrations 02 9876 5176.
21 World Social Communications (mass media) Day
25 (7.30pm) – 28 (5pm) Cursillo weekend for women, Greenhills, Canberra. Spiritual director, Fr Michael Fallon, msc. (Margie Doyle, 02 6288 0309)
26 Sorry Day
Public lecture, Religion: Does it unite or divide?, presented by Pro. Edmund Chia (religious diversity: the Asian experience) and Pro. Des Cahill (the Australian experience), Mercy Lecture Theatre, ACU (115 Vicotria Parade) Melbourne; donation appreciated; 6-7.30pm (in association with Sydney’s New Pentecost Forum 2006)
28-June 4 Week of Prayer for Reconciliation and Christian Unity – Australia: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (Mt 18:20)
28 and 29 The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra, presents Australian Theologian Dr Val Webb, In defence of doubt and Catching water in a net: Imagining the divine, St James Church Centre, Gillies Street, Curtain; 7.45pm Monday and 10am Tuesday. Entry costs apply.
The graphic design and web content management for this edition of OnLine Catholics has been prepared by Ian James, of JGD Graphic + Web Melbourne.