Bring Hicks home: silence indicates consent
(Fr) Peter Dresser, Coonamble, NSW

I recently made a public and humble plea to Philip Ruddock to bring David Hicks home.

His deplorable situation continues to make grim reading and is a sad indictment of the lack of compassion displayed by our Government regarding his wretched plight.

I now make a public and humble plea to the leaders of our Catholic Church to voice their concern at the appalling abuse David continues to endure.

It is incredible that any Australian, let alone our political and religious leaders, could be in complicity with such cruel and inhumane treatment. 

David may well have committed serious offences, but even though there are no current charges against him, he has not been allowed due legal process, including the presumption of innocence, and has been denied basic human rights provided by the Geneva Conventions.

After five years of barbaric incarceration and declining physical and mental health, immediate repatriation and placement under a control order would seem the most humane way for justice to take its course.

There is also a matter of urgency. Lawyers indicate it could be a further two years before any court proceedings commence.  By then David could be permanently physically and mentally maimed.  Or dead.

Qui tacet consentire (“silence indicates consent”) is a phrase that our Australian bishops should heed. Their general silence regarding David Hicks and Guantanamo Bay is deafening particularly since these matters have become moral dilemmas for many Catholics. 

There are many who look to our bishops for leadership and guidance in a society which has become muddied by political expediency. 

I urge the Australian bishops to demand truth and honesty from our Government. I urge them to demand an immediate end to the wretched plight of David Hicks, the cessation of his brutal treatment and his immediate repatriation.


Does the hierarchy really want a disillusioned laity?
Helen Oxenburgh-Lowe, WA.

As a member of the parish that is referred to in the article The curse of clericalism haunts and hurts (OLC, issue 125), I can vouch for the isolation and hurt caused by the situation so well described by Dr Jane Anderson.

Vatican II is a long forgotten memory; rather like Camelot, an idea that blossomed for a few short years then got trampled on by those who fear change and the empowerment of the laity.

I have every sympathy with Martin Luther in his quest to change the structure of hierarchy and I question, is this what the hierarchy of the 21st century wants, a disillusioned laity who may, given enough rope, break away and form an inclusive, collaborative Church that was inspired by Vatican II?

There needs to be wider dialogue on the priesthood, but this, too, is blocked for discussion unless it is to confirm the usual model of priesthood; patriarchal. 

If this is not forthcoming, the Church will continue to be strangled by 'the curse of clericalism'.


Yours, badly shaken …
Les Lenard, WA

20th February 2006
To … Parish Council
After long and painful consideration I wish to tender my resignation from my position on the Parish Council in protest of the way the present (Parish Priest) did not exercise love, charity and compassion against the very bad treatment meted out to (the former Parish Priest) by his superior…

I have also resigned from my position of Sacristan … for the same reasons.

Our parish community is being divided thanks to the said above, and it is high time for the hierarchy to wake up and sort out this mess without using the "good old broom" to sweep the dirt under the very worn out old carpet.

Also in protest we have suspended our planned giving contributions which we have religiously paid for the last 30 years.

Yours badly shaken, Mrs M Lenard

P.S. I have the complete support of my husband Mr L Lenard concerning these matters.

Since then, around June this year, it came to light that the present Parish Priest is the instigator behind the scenes.  Therefore, a good number of us are unable to attend holy mass to see him perform Christian rites completely opposite to the way he lives and acts. He should be transferred very quickly for further education and instruction, to learn to be a real and not just a 'commercial' priest.  So far, the hierarchy has done nothing to rectify the existing situation.


In total disagreement
John Gariano, WA

I was intrigued by Jane Anderson's article The curse of clericalism haunts and hurts (OLC, issue 125).

Intrigued, because I have been in the same parish  for seven years and totally disagree with her.

Our parish was never a healthy, vibrant community, where diversity abounded and the parish priest had a pastoral team full of compassion and inclusivity and a hundred flowers bloomed.

On the contrary, it was run by a little group of the priest's friends and allies, so that the others felt quite out of place and excluded.

As a result of all this, the bishop and the religious order concerned wanted the old PP to leave completely and to let the new PP have a free hand.

Forty parishioners may indeed have lobbied the bishop for the PP's return, but the other 360 did not, and many of these 360 actually lobbied for his going. Many of us were not "incredulous" that the PP had been removed, but relieved.

Especially the parishioner who dared to stand up during a sermon and contradict the priest's open heresy (not the previous PP). The man was dragged by force, by members of the parish elite, from the church, and prohibited by law from approaching a church for four years, effectively and illicitly excommunicating him. The bishop refused to intervene.

The real heart of the matter is that the new PP is African and, we are told, believes in hierarchy, aloofness and liturgical rubrics. He favours "hyperconservatives" who refuse to have faith in that new Pentecost, Vatican Two.  In fact, he is moderate, open to discussion, and quite willing to compromise with the liberals. He is also a good and professional PP.

All this , we are told, has upset many parishioners. Frankly, I think that it would be more honest for these people to leave the Church. They are unhappy with Papal and Episcopal authority, and indeed with the whole 2000 year mess, so why not attend the Uniting Church or the Anglicans?

I wish them well and wish them gone.


Imported cultural values will not prevail
John O'Donnell, Old Bar, NSW.

The curse of clericalism haunts and hurts (OLC, issue 125):  This is so serious, not only for the Australian church, but for the universal church.  Many thanks to Jane Anderson for sharing this with us. 

Recently, the bishop of our diocese has made the decision to invite overseas clergy to fill gaps in our parishes.  Heaven preserve us from this kind of non-Christian, anti-Kingdom behaviour! 

The Kingdom of God is strong and alive in this country within the faithfulness and charity of the type of wronged laity Jane describes, and within our Australian culture and its best values. 

Cultural values imported, even by ordained ministers, will not prevail against it - Vatican synods notwithstanding.  Treat us like children?  Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!


Keep speaking the voice of justice
Sr Sheila Quonoey, Sydney, NSW.

Thank you Dr Jane Anderson for your article (The curse of clericalism haunts and hurts) on this particular parish.

I belong to St Vincent’s, Redfern, so I can really relate to your words. Congratulations to the people in the parish who have persevered in the quest for justice. I ache for you in your situation and encourage you to remain strong and keep speaking the voice of justice.


Ineptitude is not news
Anthony Gooley, Brisbane, Qld.

Re the article The curse of clericalism, while I sympathise with the people of the community concerned and recognise difficulties with handling change-overs in parishes and the need for sensitivity, I really question whether this article is more than a gossip story shared between aggrieved parishioners and best left there. 

What is the real merit of this article? Is there any real analysis of an issue of general concern to the wider readership of an online newsletter such as yours.

If anything the story, assuming the facts are correct, is about ineptness in managing human relations.  This is not really news.  Unfortunately it happens in all sorts of organisations in the non-church world, too, and it needs to be addressed, but just not in this format.

Your author misrepresents the bishop's authority over members of Religious Institutes.  While the bishop is free as any other member of the public to talk with the Major Superior of the RI about the retirement options for the outgoing priest, it is actually outside his canonical authority to do any more than that.  Only the Major Superior can make arrangements for the retirement of a members of his institute.

I wonder how this story fits with your stated editorial policy?


Third process of de-Hellinisation
Vin Underwood, Brighton, Vic.

In the Pope’s address at Regensburg he speaks of three attempts to de-Hellinise Christianity. The third stage is now in progress.

Those who support this third stage, the Pope argues, believe they ‘have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation (that is, its inculturation in Greek culture) in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieu’. The Pope’s judgement on this thesis is that it ‘is not simply false, it is coarse and lacking precision’.

When I read this I wondered if the condemnation of some of the writings of the Sri Lankan theologian Tissa Balasuriya are a direct result of this view of the Pope. Does the recent case of the now deceased Jaques Depuis and his writings on pluralism also fall under this judgement by the Pope?

I have some concerns about this view of the Pope. Is there anybody out there who can justify the Pope’s judgement on this third process of de-Hellinisation of Christianity?


What was the point?
Kate Mannix, Sydney, NSW

What was the point of the editor's intervention in last week's Holy Mousepad column (New life for Catholic peace activists) ?

Mouse makes a legitimate point when s/he points out the lack of Catholic activism in Australia, which in turn points to the scandalous reduction of Catholic social teaching and the current a-historical emphasis on personal and sexual morality.

Sensible and well researched opinions by an established columnist do not need to be 'balanced' by a contrary view - not by the editor, anyway.

The diocesan press may value 'pollyanna editors' and their spin. But I would hope that an independent Catholic journal could embrace a diversity of view and the occasional criticism of contemporary Catholic practice.


When is disobedience okay?
Ryan Sullivan

I have been reading this web site of yours and wondering about a couple of things.

Where in the 2000 years of Catholic teaching is disobedience okay?  Even if it is civil. 

Weren't we suppose to obey even the severe masters?  Saints gave great examples of obedience to civil laws.  Would you like examples?  How can Civil disobedience be okay in light of Church teachings? 

Vatican II has 'opened the windows' of the church, to what?  The smoke of satan, that’s what.  If you disagree, then show me all the priests, nuns, religious, good souls streaming into the Church.   Show me evidence the Church is growing stronger. Or is it dying? 

I think you should rethink what you are writing in the web site and ask yourself: Is all this helping the Church Christ started, or hurting?

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