from: Dr Elias Nasser, 30 Sept
To: His Excellency Most Reverend Francesco Canalini
Re: Joint Statement made by Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Peter Jensen regarding Labor Party Policy for Non Government Schools Funding
Dear Archbishop Canalini
As an ordinary Catholic I was most concerned about the recent intervention of my own Archbishop, Cardinal Pell, regarding Labor Party policy for schools funding. I am not a member of any political party or organisation.
I am not in principle opposed to the clergy intervening in political issues (in contrast to a recent statement made by Mr Alexander Downer). Indeed the clergy must be first and foremost prophets defending the downtrodden, the poor and those suffering injustice. However such public comments need to be nuanced: timing and context are all important.
I was therefore struck with incredulity that, so close to the Federal election, Cardinal Pell would intervene, not on behalf of these very people (ie the downtrodden, the poor and those suffering injustice) but for wealthy private schools.
What compounds this gross lack of judgement is that the Cardinal is clearly a close friend of the Prime Minister. He has appeared on many occasions in public with him and the Cardinal was also instrumental in gaining from the Prime Minister the allocation of taxpayer funds for the expansion of the private Notre Dame University into the eastern states as a rival to the Australian Catholic University: the Cardinal has a known close association with Notre Dame University and is sympathetic to its ethos. This intervention by the Cardinal, on the eve of our Federal election, can therefore be seen to be directly supporting his friend, the Prime Minister.
I am aware that the Holy See takes a keen interest in the affairs of the local Churches and is certainly responsive to the concerns of parishioners as has been demonstrated on many occasions in the past (eg alleged abuses of liturgical practice). I would therefore ask your Excellency to reflect on my concerns and pass these onto to the relevant Apostolic dicastery.
(copied to Archbishop Francis Carroll, President of the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference)
from: Charles Craig, 30 Sept
With reference to the [Survey of Priests, #18] I find the whole attitude of these priests - not only in Australia but anywhere in the world - to be absolutely selfish. I received the article from the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference as I am listed on their mailing list. There was a website link which is how I have gained access to you.
The highest categories of Saints are martyrs, virgins and confessors. There are no male Saints who are recognised as virgins as these would be few and far between and very hard to verify.
Within the Scriptures we hear of the Eunuchs. The Eunuchs were men and women who dedicated themselves to the Temple and took an oath of celibacy. They are referred to in Isaiah 56: 1-5 and Our Lord refers to them in Matt 19: 11-12. In fact Our Lord states this lifestyle must not be taken lightly and must only be undertaken by those who are called to it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. According to Isaiah, people who live a life of continence will receive very special blessings. This life of continence is self-sacrifice. What example are these priests giving to their parishioners on the issue of self-sacrifice?
I am of the opinion that these men should never have become priests in the first place. In fact, if that is the way that they feel then let them leave the Priesthood; they will be the eventual losers - and the Catholic Church will be better off. Our Bishops and hierarchy are too soft on the issues of priests speaking out this way. Why don't we ever hear about this hoo-hah from the Nuns - they also lead celibate lives? I suggest that these priests read Hosea 4: 1-10 and learn just what is store for them.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. GOD WILL NOT CHANGE THE RULES TO SATISFY THE MAJORITY VOICE. GOD WILL BE SOLE JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER.
Yes - God is kind, loving, merciful and forgiving. But, if I want the salvation he is offering, I will have to do it His Way - according to His rules. I have a free will - this is given to me by God. If I think I can achieve salvation by doing it a better and easier way then I am free to do it. But, if I lose out, then I must be prepared to accept the consequences. No Deacon, Priest, Bishop or Cardinal - and not even the Pope himself - is responsible for my salvation. I have to take care of that myself. The clergy and Scriptures are there to give me the rules and the clergy to give advice when I struggle - but I have to do it myself.
from: Jeremias Wijeyeratne, 30 Sept
In your Editorial, #17, you have cited a quote from the website Super Flumina stating that Cardinal Pell does tolerate 'dissent' and goes on to quote from the journal Kairos issue June 28-5 July 1998 that inter alia "It is certainly true that Our Lord is not physically present in the Eucharist", and that Sacred Scriptures contain historical and scientific errors and misunderstandings". The conclusion is that each of them are contrary to the Church's clear teaching.
The first part of the quote is a firm assertion of the truth, which your analysis has failed to appreciate. The Church always affirms the real presence of Our Lord in both species after consecration. It is a Dogmatic belief. In the second part the Church recognizes human error as expressed by Cardinal Pell.
The fact is that the dissidents in an effort to confuse the faithful have resorted to a false theology as evidenced by the plethora of organizations that pretend to be privy to the truth, based on modernist interpretations.
Some of your members who are ex-priests, ex-seminarians and dissident clergy intermingle with recalcitrant supporters while paying homage to orthodoxy deride the hierarchical concept little realizing that the hierarchical system is tied up with orthodoxy. The schism that has developed within the church like a cancer is directed and pursued by reputed but disgruntled clerics who are disappointed with their status and have an axe to grind and use their intelligence and cunning to lure the gullible. Cardinal Pell has a responsibility to safeguard the deposit of Faith. The enemies of the Church have recognized the Cardinal as a stumbling block to the takeover of the Australian Church and by employing tactics too detailed to be uncovered in this short note, except to say that their propaganda has apparently overcome the resistance offered even by good women - as distinguished by the condescension of Sister Katrina Brill.
The Reform of the Catholic Church to embody the whims and fancies of those who oppose the hierarchical Church is not on.
Obviously Australian Reforming Catholics cannot be sincere, whatever their protestations, in their loyalty to the Church. They use every rule in the book to convince their fellow Catholics to rebel. It is unfortunate that those with little faith fall into their bosom. In refusing to accommodate the ARM in premises coming under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese, Cardinal Pell deserves our congratulation as this sort of surreptitious behaviour is becoming endemic. Finally let me say that Canon law was never intended to be used to cause upheaval within the Church and a pretence to license evil intentions.
from: Angela Shanahan, 30 Sept
I was interested in the disability article (Editorial, #19). Some of my kids have disabilities. They've spent years and years in hospital and me with them. Hospital gives you a perspective on disabled people - it's often quite comic. One interesting thing I've noticed is that none of them like the idea of the Paralympics at all. I mean they want to watch Thorpe, not a guy with no arms doing 100 metre butterfly - just like everybody else. The Paralympics and 'inclusive' speech about disabled people (or 'cripples' as Auberon Waugh used to say) in the name of human rights is just another way of making us feel better about ourselves. Of course there is absolutely no correlation between that and actually treating people who aren't physically perfect in the same way as ourselves. Attitudes to the disabled have actually become more barbarous. The proof of that is the fact that late term abortion for physical abnormalities, is now routine (according to The Daily Telelgraph Sept 2). Only a few years ago the Royal Hospital for Women in Melbourne was 'caught' after a baby of 36 weeks gestation was aborted for dwarfism. How enlightened!
from: Colin Patterson, 29 Sept
Thank you for allowing me to read these early issues of your e-journal; I have found it interesting, and you certainly catch issues earlier than many other Catholic online sources. Also you carry local Catholic stories that are not readily available elsewhere on the net. However, I must tell you that virtually everything I have read so far on Online Catholics has been either subtly or not-so-subtly antagonistic towards the leadership of the Catholic church. As a recent convert I still find it strange that such 'adolescent' attitudes are so prevalent in otherwise intelligent Catholic believers. My hope is that at least a balance in perspective might become part of your editorial orientation in future issues. In the meantime, my suggestion is: Grow up!
All the best for the future!
from: Tess Livingstone, Brisbane 28 September
As a Catholic mother, I wish to take issue with the theme and specifics of your editorial, "Kicking the ladder out from behind". (Editorial, #18)
You claim, erroneously, that our school funding system "promotes division and inequity, and sucks out resources from the many to give to the few." To the contrary, even the most "elite" private schools receive only around 20 percent of their funding from taxpayers. Parents provide the rest. Were Australia to adopt a single-funding model as you advocate, government funding to all non-Government schools, including Catholic schools, would have to be lifted substantially to bring them into line with the funding currently provided to state schools. In other words, the "few" (about 30 percent of Australian school children in non-state schools) really would be drawing resources away from the "many". This would hardly benefit the "common good".
The social justice argument against your editorial is the most compelling and is straightforward: stopping the taxes paid by Catholics from reaching Catholic schools would be a monstrous breach of social justice. Surely this is incontrovertible.
This breakthrough was achieved in the early 1960s through the dedicated efforts of Catholics who have gone before us. Catholic parents look to our Church leaders to defend this strongly - it is not a trivial matter of "photo opportunities" as you suggest.
You note that no other country has a two-tiered secondary education system quite like ours. Maybe not, but that is their loss because it would be hard to think of any other school system anywhere in the world that has provided social and educational advancement to many working-class families as our Catholic school system. Both the USA and the UK do have private, fee-paying Catholic and non-Catholic schools, which usually exclude even middle income-earners because of the fees they have to charge in the absence of Government support. How sad it would be to see this happen here. For my daughter to receive comparable teaching, facilities and subject choice in London to what she receives here, I would have to pay at least 4 or 5 times the fees, which as a single parent would be impossible.
As for your absurd proposition that parents "cannot in conscience act to promote the interests of one human individual over another, even that of their own child" such thinking would not have been out of place in the state-run creches of the Soviet Union. Seeking out the very best opportunities for our children is part of being a parent, and I will never apologise for it. Children are not sausages - and one type of school and school system does not fit all. Catholic parents, as the first and most important teachers of their children, select their schools taking into account faith education as well as the child's interests, abilities and personalities. Catholic schools, in general, are moderate in their fees, and I know many a good parish priest who does not turn away those in genuine financial need but who are dedicated to educating their children in the faith.
Pope John Paul II, incidentally, was fulsome in his praise of our school system on his 1986 Australian visit when he said it was in accord with "the Church's right and duty to provide an integral human religious and moral education." These days, Catholic schools are the main and sometimes only contact children have with the Church and faith that is their birthright.
I find it extraordinary that you use the name "Catholics" in your publication's masthead then run an editorial attacking so crucial a part of the heritage of our Australian faith community. It raises serious questions as to the real motives of your publication