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The Editor reserves the right to shorten letters for length or clarity.


From Margot Taverne 4 April

The Pope is dead.... The Pope is dead - long live the Pope,
Our guide along the path of hope.
We, eager, follow through our love
To reach the goal which lies above.

His knowledge, gathered from his books:
It is not needed that he looks
At us - mere people - at his side.
He knows it all, he knows he's right.

If we but follow, mindless sheep,
We need not worry, not lose sleep,
Not in our conscience agonise
If we are good and kind and wise.

But we're not sheep, we have a choice
To follow our own inner voice,
Our path to tread - or so we should.
The light was lit by God, the Good.

Our love for Goodness leads the way.
This love will not lead us astray.
Please God, let our future Pope
In wisdom, lead through love and hope.

Let him respect our right to use
God's gift of freedom how to choose.
The path was shown by simple Love,
By Jesus, gift from God above.

From Brian Haill, 3 April

Cardinal Pell in his reflection on the Pope's legacy (SMH 3/4) is jumping the gun in his rushed declaration that John Paul II "...will be canonised sooner rather than later." There are far more urgent concerns in store for the next person wanting to step into the shoes of the Fisherman, ahead of bliss in heaven for one many would hope to be already en route.

By dismissing as "naive and improbable" the "hopes of Catholic dissidents and radical Christian liberals that the next popes will quickly dismantle John Paul's legacy", Cardinal Pell seeks to chain the successor before he's even chosen.

He's right to agree with the late Pope that people need "to rediscover the beauty of sexuality..." but that's a vital aspect of humanity that so many churchmen, including Cardinal Pell, have yet to grasp: people in marriage with an HIV infected spouse mustn't be denied life-saving protection.


From Peter Downie 31 March

I seem to recall reading a year or so ago about a movement of US Catholics which was urging its members to find alternate worthy causes for the dollars they had been in the habit of giving to the Church administration. They would then send a photocopy of the cheque made out to the other charity to their bishop, explaining that the funds had been diverted due to poor governance by those who purport to lead our community. Sounds pretty sensible to me.


From Frank Purcell 30 March

Val Noone's article on Cyril in today's issue of Online Catholics is a marvellous pen picture of a priest who has had enormous influence both within the Columbans and within the wider Church in Ireland, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

As a student of Cyril's during the 50's, I remember well some of the events surrounding his experiences as chaplain to the Asian students. Through it all, Cyril kept going back to the theology of mission, and in particular, the theology of the lay apostolate, an area in which he has had enormous influence.

New Zealanders wishing to become Columbans had to come to Australia and Ireland for their preparation. During the war, Cyril ended up at Corpus Christi Seminary in Melbourne. It was there that Charley Maine SJ, Rector of the seminary during Cyil's time there, became a significant influence on Cyril's interest in lay apostolate. Charley had a deep commitment to Cardign's approach to the lay apostolate as understood and practised in the Young Christian Workers and related movements.

The Australian Catholic University is to be applauded for giving public recognition to a man who, as Val Noone noted, was never left long enough in any appointment to be able to complete a post-graduate degree. But his reputation in Ireland as a cultural anthropologist and thinker reached Bruxelles and he was head-hunted by the Jesuits to be a researcher at the Pro Mundi Vita Institute. There, Cyril did some outstanding research projects such as his analysis of Youth Culture in Europe during the late 60s and early 70s. His publications were of a standard more than sufficient to merit a series of PhDs.

Cyril's other great achievement was to encourage seminarians to think and challenge him during lectures. He saw education as a venture in which students and teachers joined together in the search for truth. At times, the search could be pretty lively. Cyril never pulle rank. In those pre-Vatican II days, he had already developed attitudes and thinking on the Church endorsed later by the Council. His mind-set has influenced generations of Columban priests in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. The fruits can be seen in the cutting edge thinking and reporting to be read in the Columban magazine, the Far East.

Well done Cyril and thanks again to the Australian Catholic University for acknowledging your academic and pastoral contributions.

ON UNBELIEVEABLE (Music for Confirmation 2005)

From Janet Godsell 4 April

Congratulations to Father Crothers who has drawn attention to the choice of hymns for the forthcoming Confirmation Ceremony at the Superdome. Whilst some would find the three hymns mentioned appropriate, most would agree with Father Crothers that they belong to a bygone era.

Who is responsible for the choice of these hymns, and have they never attended a school liturgy or youth Mass and experienced the enthusiastic participation of youngsters who respond positively to hymns which for them have meaning.

I am proud and uplifted when I attend the school liturgies at my granddaughter's school and appreciate the efforts of the Religion co-ordinator and the music teacher and other staff who put so much thought, time and effort into choosing music which will enhance the children's experience of their faith.

The recent Easter liturgy at her school was a perfect example, with all the youngsters totally involved. They sang their hearts out in hymns which emphasised for them, the significance of the Easter journey.

Her school is a perfect example of what is happening in all Catholic schools, both primary and High schools.

Why then is the clock being turned back particularly on such an important occasion as this Confirmation Ceremony.

I congratulate Father Crothers and the young people of St. Declan's Parish, and other parishes like his, where the young people are encouraged to express and experience their faith through THEIR music.

My own Parish at Marsfield is an example of this where we have a wonderful childrens choir led by a dedicated parishioner who is supported by parents who encourage both her and the childrens efforts. This sort of encouragement reinforces the great work being done by Principals and Religion Co-ordinators in our Catholic schools.

It is the future of the Church.

From John O'Keefe 30 March

Thanks to Fr John Crothers for his article. It is a much needed response to what has been offered for the celebration of Confirmation.

I have other worries about this celebration of Confirmation at the Superdome. It seems to be a command performance for the whole diocese, the exercise of power and control for its own sake. It seems to me, also, that having one celebration of the sacrament for the whole diocese takes away from the relevance this sacrament should have for each parish, and for the individual child.

When I was confirmed a long while ago, some three hundred children made their confirmation at the same time. I find that sort of thing deplorable in this day.

From Arthur Rolfe 31 March

Father John Crothers brought back memories. Back in the 50s, after standing beside me at Mass listening to a heartfelt rendition of "Faith of Our Fathers", my then eight year old son asked the perfectly reasonable question, "Hey Dad what was it like being chained in a prison dark?" Things haven't changed.

From Mike Yates 30 March

I have to agree with John Crothers that it is unbelievable that little kids are being reintroduced to (among other hymns) We Stand for God. It is one of our most triumphalistic hymns of the 50s (my childhood era). We sang it with great gusto when I was a kid but isn't it a little dangerous to sing the line "against his foes we raise his standard". Who are his foes? Anyone without love in their hearts and lives? And does that include me or even, dare I say, at times someone in Catholic leadership? And what are we doing re-introducing military images in a time when our world is still struggling to solve its problems in a military way with disasterous results? Want to make sure the kids get the message? When all else fails (or when you just have to give too much of yourself) use force?

We Stand for God is still, in my opinion, unnecessary Catholic nostalgia at best and at worst a tiny part of a movement to quietly put aside Vatican II (while still affirming its importance) and return home. To the family home where we knew so more clearly who we were. And so we have Opus Dei influence in our Sydney Archdiocese Lenten program. So, now, in my parish, a typical one I suspect, we have 3 groups (30 people out of a 1000 families) in 2005 taking advantage of Lenten interaction using that (rather strange) program. Ten years ago there used to be at least 10 or 11 groups!

All this from We Stand For God? No. It is, for me, a trigger, a symbol of a turning back when we can not turn back because God is not back there. He is here and in the future. But for those who sing the song today and consequently feel inspired to love others with all their best, let them go for it.

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