down pat

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 24, 2007

Pat Power, the 65-year-old auxiliary bishop of Canberra-Goulburn (Australia), is one of those mildly embarrassing Tom Gumbleton figures who combines uncritical enthusiasm for Leftist nostrums with a cringe-making itch for publicity. Perhaps as a younger man his idealism was supple enough to permit an occasional flash of originality or insight, but the humorless sterility of progressive churchmanship has killed any wit or serenity or sense of perspective he may have once enjoyed. Like a caged lab rat chasing its tail, his discourse revolves around an ever-narrowing circle of clich├ęs from which he seems incapable of escape.

On one level it's understandable. Liberal Catholics of the 1970s were sublimely confident that the future was all theirs. Yet they underestimated the scale of the shift in social mores they abetted, such that the following generation of progressives was not interested in reforming religion but dismissed Christianity altogether. If you believe what Power and Gumbleton believe, but were born after 1970, you neither know nor care where the nearest church is located and you spend your Sunday mornings doing sudoku; conversely, most persons under thirty with enthusiasm for Catholicism will value it, in part, because it offers an alternative to the worldview of the Gumbletons and the Powers that be.

For those who believed what they were told in the '70s, it has to be discouraging, and a certain asperity at the Future who welshed on her promises is inevitable. Four years ago, when his brother bishop George Pell was made a cardinal, Power gave voice to some peevish disappointment in a media interview.

I suppose what concerns me is that many of the values that I think are dear to Australian Catholics, such as the dignity of the human person, the primacy of conscience, the theology of communion, the need for dialogue in our Church, reading the signs of the times, I don't think that they're values that are particularly clearly enunciated by Archbishop Pell, and I think for that reason that many people will be disappointed that the Church is going further in a direction that is not really catering for their needs and the needs of people in our Australian society.

"Not really catering for their needs ..." There speaks a man of his time: Holy Mother Church has undergone a remake as a flight attendant. Small wonder that it's Pell, not Power, who attracts vocations. Small wonder that it's Power, not Pell, given to sputtering in indignation.

Earlier this week Power released a letter he'd sent to those circulating a petition calling for the conventional liberal Anglican reforms -- you know, "renewal," like the Episcopal Church has modeled for us. Bishop Pat lets fall a few tears in sympathy:

In our own Archdiocese in line with the experience of other parts of Australia, parishes generally and priests personally are under added pressure with an increasing load being borne by a diminishing and ageing clergy. The irony is that in this Archdiocese there are between thirty and forty priests who have married and thereby been debarred from active priestly ministry. Many of them and their families are active in parishes and other areas of Church life, but they are unable to celebrate the Eucharist. There was a recent instance where a priest failed to arrive for Mass and a married priest and his wife sat rather helplessly in the congregation while an acolyte and other members of the parish attempted to lead a liturgy of the word with Holy Communion.

"Debarred from active priestly ministry"? An odd way of putting it. Each man was already engaged in active priestly ministry when he made the decision that something was more important to him, and so chose to renounce that ministry (to which, let's not forget, he had pledged lifetime fidelity as a celibate). The reality is that the post-Conciliar progressives fed themselves on false hopes and false threats and as a consequence jumped from a tradition of orthodoxy and sane (if often stodgy) piety into a vacuum. They contracepted into oblivion the only generation they had a chance to influence, and are now knocking for readmittance to the "institution" they earlier abandoned. They want to offer the Church their wisdom (and that of their wives, of course). They are perplexed by the Church's reluctance to accept.

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  • Posted by: parochus - Jan. 21, 2010 4:52 PM ET USA

    Shoot, Di, don't be going off half-cocked about this blowup. If these "codes" were aimed against Christianity, we'd probably be going for our guns and blasting away at the government for allowing themselves to be a target.

  • Posted by: James Matthew Wilson - Jan. 21, 2010 8:53 AM ET USA

    This is terribly inappropriate. The U.S. and British Militaries should also have strict policies banning the procurement of all Chateau Neuf du Pape wines, for this too is clearly a coded reference to the Supreme Pontiff that may be taken as proselytizing. Given the well documented effects of wine, such subtle Jesuitical insinuations might lead many an inebriated grunt to conversion -- and on the Government dime!

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jan. 20, 2010 7:47 PM ET USA

    Both passages refer to vision and light (of Christ, of course) so are particularly appropriate for an optical instrument. Now, these are instruments of force and war so one could argue appropriateness from a theological perspective. . .