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ON THE DECREASING LAITY

From Anthony P Millar, 20 February 2005

The recent correspondence on the lack of clergy and vocations fails in my view to address an equally, if not more important issue, the decrease in the laity. As an octogenerian who attend the same church now as I did 70 years ago, I am struck by the fact that we have one third of the priests now and about one tenth of the congregation. This strongly suggests that the problem is that there are not enough laity to provide for an increase in the clergy as there is nothing to show that vocations per 1000 Catholics will be as big as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

If the age drop in laity is greater than that in the clergy, do we need more clergy or is the problem that Catholics are maldistributed in the parochial aspect of life? Surely it is time to increase the laity if we believe in our Faith but I have not heard a Prayer of the Faithful seeking more laity. In an egocentric church I have heard plenty about the clergy and its needs. Why do we not seek to increase our numbers if the Faith is all we believe it to be?

ON SPEAKING OUT

From Bev Smith, 20 February 2005

Keep walking at the same pace - forward, Online Catholics.

What is Cardinal Pell scared of?

From Francis Brown 18 February

Thanks for fixing whatever it was that prevented me from reading your editorial. Now I've read it, I'm glad I had not missed out altogether in reading it as it is excellent. I agree that freedom is an essential element in the press but also in spirituality and, if religion is to support spirituality (and I include Christian spirituality), in religious development. I remember that Jesus' message included the freedom of the children of God. I wonder how it is possible for the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart if my mind is expected to be bound. Restrictions on freedom also tends to introduce fear which is foreign to the growth of the same children of God.

From Roy Case 18 February

I am a practicing catholic and a relatively new subscriber to "Online Catholics." I simply wish to applaud your editorial and request of you, no matter how controversial a subject, please do not be silenced by the conservative bureaucrats in the church.

From Brian Haill, 17 February

It's always been a cardinal error on the part of government or individual to stifle freedom of speech and, in hand with that, to denigrate or intimidate their defenders.

Dictators and tyrants the world over, and their lesser lights, the bullies and the insecure in churches, corporations, schoolyards, and other areas of community life, have always to be resisted lest truth be affronted as well as freedom.

Whoever holds that freedom of speech is a sin needs to be sharply and urgently reminded that the greater sin...in church terms, the mortal sin...is that of silence.

Whole nations have been bowed under great weights of guilt for remaining silent in the face of all sorts of abominations whose very oxygen is silence.

In this country at least, it is unlawful to discriminate, and Cardinal Pell would do well to have the detail of such laws spelt out to him in simple terms. Bullying is still a matter of significant concern in Australia and workplace intimidation is an area rightfully attracting more attention.

And yet, Cardinal Pell has paid Online Catholics an immeasurable compliment - backhanded though it was. He has at least been brought, however unwillingly, to admit that he numbers himself among the growing number of readers of Online Catholics compelled to read what some would prefer to remain unpublished.

Australian Catholics see this eforum as a vital torch that shines the light wherever it must be shone. And as the Cardinal knows better than most, lights have to be placed on hills and tables, not under bushels that could extinguish them.

Leaders must be called to account: those unable to bear such scrutiny need to move on. Those who seek to intimidate questioners may need to be moved on.

Michael Mullins and his work will be missed. I respected and valued both.

ON PIONEER AND SETTLER THEOLOGIES

From Margaret Callinan 17 February

I first encountered the 'pioneer vs. settler' theme in a workshop on embracing and managing change in the workplace. I was considered well out of line when I commented that the pioneers made it safe for the settlers by steam-rolling all before them and killing the Indians ('Native Americans' these days). To be praised for being like that was a somewhat dubious honour.

While I appreciate the sentiments behind what Ted Mason writes, I find the 'pioneer vs. settler' theme even less appropriate for theology.

ON OUR (NEW!) LINKS PAGE

From Christine Wood 22 February

I really appreciate the links available through OC - it brings the faith very much alive.

ON DISSENTERS

From Fr John George 17 February

My concern about some dissenting views in Online Catholics is well expressed by Charles Davis. Davis was the 'great-grandfather' of postconciliar dissenters and has now passed on to wherever dissenters end up in eternal life. He left the priesthood in the crazy 1960s and married Florence Henderson (one episcopal wag commented that Davis rejected the council of Trent to embrace the counsel of Florence)

On a later breed of dissenters Davis observed in the manner of an older wiser statesman:
"because of their paradoxical position, people who hold more or less the same views as I do and yet remain within the church seem to suffer distorting effects on their thinking. I get the impression at times of a tension, a forced carelessness an uneasy subtlety or ingenuity in arguing."



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