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.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 12 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Joseph Paul - Dec. 05, 2004 7:02 AM ET USA

    Sorry, but it is all true. I'm from Brisbane, the saddest Archdiocese in the country of Australia.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Dec. 01, 2004 11:55 PM ET USA

    Good uga muuga! The news report on this ArchBishop B(L)athersby almost sounds like a satire. About makes the US Bishops' seem virtuous. Please tell me this story is just an early April Fools joke...PPPPLEASE! "You wouldn't go in and go 'bang, bang.'" Guess it wouldn't matter with this successor to the Apostles...he's shooting blanks. COME, LORD JESUS! That day will be sweet when He sorts all this mess out.

  • Posted by: Aussie - Dec. 01, 2004 6:29 PM ET USA

    What people reading this and commenting don't seem to realise is that Archbishop Bathesby is almost the best bishop in the state of Queensland. This is not a joke. Pray for us.... really pray for us..... pray.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 01, 2004 3:50 AM ET USA

    This is the "Catholic Church as club of like-minded people" mentality rather than the "Catholic Church as Ark of Salvation." If the Church is just a club then cases of 'apostasy' can be treated with the great casualness shown here. Join the club or don't join - who cares?!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2004 8:26 PM ET USA

    There's a simple corporate solution: fire the priest, or (if the bishop is too timid for that logical measure) promote him to a chancery position where he won't have to administer the sacraments.

  • Posted by: opraem - Nov. 30, 2004 7:59 PM ET USA

    are you sure this isn't the archdiocese of los angeles? diogenes has been known to plant tongue firmly in cheek in the past.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2004 7:38 PM ET USA

    The feminists are right, at least in Australia. Anyone could fill Bp Bathersby's shoes. Feminists, atheists, even slugs.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2004 7:07 PM ET USA

    Did I read that correctly? The use of alternate language has been happening for a decade and Bathersby is just now getting around to "writing a letter"? And the priests in question will need two months to comply? Wonder who's published their lectionary ... Will someone please point out to these yokels (& others like 'em) that THEY are whom we are warned about in Paul's first letter to Timothy .. first chapter and II Tim 3.

  • Posted by: Charles134 - Nov. 30, 2004 3:21 PM ET USA

    Why are you so hard on this guy? It's not like he said Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Or baptized the babies in Latin. Remember Augustine's maxim: On essentials (inclusivity, non-judgmentalism):unity; on non-essentials (the deposit of the Faith): celebrate our diversity! I'm paraphrasing here.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2004 2:28 PM ET USA

    PLUMP, FIFTYISH non-smoking Scorpio... And, pray, what do you have against Scorpios, Diogenes...? Huh? HUH...?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2004 1:32 PM ET USA

    Unbelievable. So, from the perspective of the Shepherd, he is basically saying, "My sheep have to decide if they want to stay with the flock, or wander off and get eaten by wolves. I can't do anything about it." Very reminiscent of John 10:12-13, "He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep."

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2004 12:21 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, this is a classic piece of sardonic wit. Must reading for every Catholic as to the dangers of fence-sitting prelates who deliberate on just which finger to shake as they precariously and painfully balance themselves. And "Bathersby of Brisbane" sounds like a parody of "Rumpole of the Bailey". Well, that's what happens when the Church Militant becomes the Church Millicent.