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is you is or is you ain't?

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Nov 04, 2008

When Brisbane's Archbishop John Bathersby warned that he was nearly ready to take canonical action against the radical leaders of St. Mary's parish, the Canberra Times quoted Bishop Pat Power, a famously liberal Canberra auxiliary, expressing sympathy for the parishioners.

The question here seems simple: Is it, or is it not, accurate to say that St. Mary's parish is a Catholic community, in communion with the universal Catholic Church. Archbishop Bathersby suggests that it is not. Bishop Power, in a statement of clarification, expresses concern that his public statements "might have appeared as my undermining Archbishop Bathersby's role in a very complex and difficult arena."

Wait. Is it the "arena" that is complex and difficult? What arena? And come to think of it, what's so complex and difficult? Is they is, or is they ain't, Catholics? What do you think, Bishop Pat?

Bishop Pat calls attention to one supportive sentence that did find its way into the Canberra Times account: "Bishop Power described Archbishop Bathersby as Australia's most open and accommodating archbishop, who was committed to dialogue."

A handsome compliment indeed. But are the parishioners of St. Mary's functioning as Catholics within the Catholic Church?

I also expressed my understanding of the archbishop's insistence on compliance with the universal church's regulations on such things as the wearing of liturgical vestments, the use of authorised Eucharistic prayers and the restriction of the homily at Mass to priests and deacons.

Yes, yes. You understand the archbishop's position. But do you agree with it?

At the same time, I gave voice to my admiration for parishes, such as St Mary's South Brisbane, for their reaching out to homosexual people and other groups of people who often feel marginalised by the Church and mainstream society.

Admiration. Right. Are they Catholics?

I think that all would agree that many people who find a haven in St Mary's are close to the heart of Jesus.

I repeat the question.

Trying to find a balance in such matters means walking a fine line.

Balance? Between two points? What would those points be? Would one be the Catholic Church? And the other would be…?

It is my hope that in all such situations the will of God can be found through dialogue, mutual respect and a humble search for the truth.

Good. A search for truth. Let's start now. Bishop Pat Power, do you or do you not agree that the parish of St. Mary's has set itself outside the Catholic Church?


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