Sterile feminist thinking
Jane Anderson's strange quip re the Pope's encyclical "while an excellent effort from a celibate male" (Letters, OLC #91) reveals the sterility of so much feminist thinking which is so full of itself as to be pathetic. So celibate males are not supposed to have what it takes to speak about love, or is it that they may not speak of love!
Be reconciled, or leave
David Morrison (Letters, OLC #91) wants to join the Uniting Church and he rejects the Nicene Creed. My response to dissenters is if you don't accept basic church teaching then after genuine effort to be reconciled with Catholic doctrine (and after much prayer) go join another ecclesial community like a Uniting Church and stop 'the agony'. OC could lose many dissenting subscribers on this advice - but fear not, Mother Church 'will just keep rolling along......' She has survived worse catastrophes and lived to tell the story.
Fr John George, Randwick North, New South Wales
We may need to change
Tom Perfect's experience in his Uniting Church Parish (Does ownership of Catholic parish life exist? OLC #90), pretty much describes my experience of my Catholic Parish: the warmth, the welcome, some of the courteous organisation and attention. Ours is a small faith community among three in our parish. I think some of the care and pleasure of our community is because it is small and interactive. However, we do have our problems, which stem from the imposition of rigid systems and the isolation of our priests. The structures need a lot of attention and willingness to review the old knee jerk reactions to a host of matters - sexuality, marriage, women, the priesthood and who qualifies. Without this attention, the young will continue to be alienated. In the words of Spong, we may need to change or die.
Ann Long, Foxground, New South Wales
Others are good, but …
I was very interested in Tom Perfect's article. He has obviously been deeply involved in parish life and is an R.E. teacher in a Catholic school. I wonder at his ability to join a Uniting Church parish and continue in this role. Having been brought up in a mixed marriage and living one for many years, I am certainly not religiously exclusive, and for all the dissatisfaction I have felt with the church, I've always felt that those who love her must look to reform from within, not leave and join splinter Christian religions.
My belief in the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ at the consecration keeps me Catholic. Other Christian gatherings offer good and meaningful services but their communion is a re-enactment of the Last Supper whereas I truly believe we receive the body and blood of Christ and that is central to our faith.
Ann Bristow, Foxground, New South Wales
I found Tom Perfect's article to be greatly insulting. As a lifelong Catholic, I have experienced several parishes, and never found any of them to be unwelcoming. I have been a reader of the word since I made my confirmation at the age of 12, and this year have become a Eucharistic minister as well. Over the years I have also been an altar server, collector, and presented the offertory. Joining the roster for these ministries has never been a difficult process, and always gladly welcomed.
At my current parish, all parishioners and guests are welcomed upon entry to the church, by both the Priest and pastoral associate. The readers of the word frequently assist in welcoming. After mass there is always a gathering of parishioners outside the church. Some stay to chat for only a few minutes, others stay for well over half an hour. There is an organised morning tea after the Sunday morning mass once a month, and efforts are being made for the Saturday evening mass-goers to have something similar arranged. Our parish community has liturgy groups who meet on a monthly basis. There is also a social justice group, which meets once a month.
In the second half of last year, our parish organised for an East Timorese Priest to visit us, and his community is now our sister parish. Monies were raised, and sent to the parish to assist in several ways. Events are organised throughout the year for parishioners to meet and socialise. All are made to feel welcome at these events, including non-Catholic family members.
Our parish, like many, has a pastoral council, made up of parishioners, as voted by the parishioners. The Parish Priest, Pastoral Associate, and the Principals of the two Catholic schools in the area are also members of the pastoral council, ex officio. The pastoral council meets monthly, and works in conjunction with both the Priest and other groups, to plan for the future of the parish. After living in the parish for a little over a year, I was nominated for and became a member of the council.
Our few organists are unpaid, just like the readers of the word, Eucharistic ministers, collectors and those who are involved with the offertory. It is their way of ministering to the parish, not a form of employment.
As for homilies being unintelligent and lacking in relevance for today's world, I simply don't see it. Perhaps I've had the best Priests in Australia all my life, or perhaps Mr Perfect has had extremely bad luck with his. Either way, not all Priests are dull, boring and monotonous. Our Parish Priest relates the Gospel to the modern world in his homilies, through several methods. The homilies are always well thought out, meaningful, and full of life, leaving a lasting impression. Those who yearn for formal education on scripture are able to do so outside of mass, with a scripture group also operational in the parish.
Mr Perfect, as a teacher of Religious Education in a Catholic school, could realistically be expected to have a decent knowledge of Vatican II, and the changes made to the structure of the Catholic Church since that time. If he possesses such knowledge, he does not exhibit this in his article.
While some parishes may be slow to change their ways, others, and the Catholic Church as a whole, are not. There are now two parishes within 30 minutes drive of mine that have married Priests - both of whom converted from other Christian denominations to Catholicism. If that isn't moving with the times, I don't know what is!
Rebecca Smith, Brisbane, Queensland