Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Brace yourself, Brisbane!

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 30, 2004

Bathersby of Brisbane, that quintessential gumby-bear bishop, has stiffened his resolve, gritted his teeth, and boldly nailed his colors to the fence.

BRISBANE'S Catholic Archbishop has questioned whether a parish can remain part of the Roman Catholic Church if it does not use the words of the scripture in its sacraments.

An excellent question. Answered in the archbishop's second-grade catechism.

Archbishop John Bathersby said yesterday it was up to the priest and the congregation to decide if they wanted to be in communion with the archdiocesan Church and the universal Catholic Church. "They either want to be in communion or not," he said.

To decide whether you want to be in communion with the universal Catholic Church belongs to the period before Confirmation, not the period after Holy Orders. That nominal (and nominally adult) Catholics are still in the adolescent struggle to "find themselves" is proof that something is deeply, deeply unwell in the archdiocese.

"If they decide they don't want to follow the authority of the Church, then they have made the choice not to be a part of the universal Church."

Wrong. If it's an open question for them, they are ipso facto not part of the Catholic Church. To be a Catholic means to have taken a position on the Church's authority.

Archbishop Bathersby also questioned whether such a priest would be able to continue as a priest.

PLUMP, FIFTYISH non-smoking Scorpio, ordained, in search of flexible, immanent, non-judgmental deity for possible long-term sacerdotal relationship. Not into ontology or leather. Send foto.

The archbishop confirmed yesterday that Fr Kennedy had given him a commitment two months ago that St Mary's would return to using traditional words in the sacraments, in response to a letter from him.

This makes it sound as if the controversy were about subjective comfort with the familiar trappings. The "traditional words" are indispensable not because they're an old favorite with Aunt Gladys, but because they constitute (in part) the form of the sacrament.

He said yesterday: "It can reach a stage where my authority doesn't mean anything at all."

True, very true. All the same, it's sweet of Your Grace to invite a parish in your archdiocese to think about baptizing its children and joining the Catholic Church.

Asked what were the consequences for a parish no longer considered part of the Archdiocese, he replied: "They would probably have to work that out for themselves."

I swear I'm not making this up.

"In certain circumstances, a priest might not be able to practise as a priest."

Wait a minute. We're talking about a priest who -- for purposes of discussion -- has taken his parish out of the structures of ecclesial authority and by that very fact out of the Church. Yet his excommunication, suspension, and interdiction are still possible but not certain penalties? The priest could, and almost certainly would, ignore the censures, but that's simply another way of restating the fact of his apostasy.

"But that is an ultimate step. You wouldn't go in and go 'bang, bang'."

Wrong again. Canons 1364 and 1331 say "Shoot between the eyes. Ask questions later." On the other hand, the canons were instituted by a different breed of men, men who believed souls were at stake. Bathersby knows better.

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