Catholic World News

Australian dissidents demand changes in Church teaching; bishops sidestep

August 12, 2011

A group of dissident Australian Catholics have released an open letter to their country’s bishops, calling for reconsideration of Church teachings on matters of sexuality, and great consultation with the laity on the appointment of bishops. In a response to the open letter, the Australian bishops’ conference did not defend Church teaching, but promised to relay the dissidents’ concerns to the Vatican.

“The Church no longer adequately inspires many of our communities,” asserts the open letter, which was circulated mainly in the Toowomba diocese and signed by over 3,000 people. The signatories complain that the Church has been “tainted by injustice and blemished by bad decisions.” The group bitterly complains about the “lack of due process” in the removal of Bishop William Morris from the Toowomba diocese earlier this year.

In Toowomba, an announcement in the weekly bulletin of St. Patrick’s cathedral in Toowomba encouraged the faithful to sign the open letter, describing the authors as “a group of committed, faithful and active Catholics.”

The open letter calls for synods in each of the Australian diocese, and a broad discussion of issues such as human sexuality and the process by which bishops are appointed. The statement is particular clear in its rejection of Church teaching regarding the impossibility of ordaining women:

We can no longer accept the patriarchal attitude towards women within our Church, and we fear than an extended claim of infallibility is stifling discussion of many important issues.

In a response to the open letter, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, the president of the Australian bishops’ conference, said that the conference “is unable to resolve the issues that have arisen.” Rather than affirming the Church’s teaching, he reported that the bishops had decided “to refer the issue of process and the doctrinal matter of the infallibility of the teaching on women’s ordinations, respectively, to the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

Further information:
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 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Defender - Aug. 13, 2011 6:29 PM ET USA

    It seems a common enough ailment of the Church: pastors and bishops not doing their job in instructing about the Faith in our churches, our schools and our daily lives. These priests are doing the same thing that children do - "It's someone else's fault." No, it's yours: you who have no depth in your own Faith; you who think the Church should conform to what you think; and you who are really Protestant.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 13, 2011 5:34 AM ET USA

    Mmm, the letter seeking more "consultation" and openness to "gender equality" comes from Toowomba; I imagine they're pretty unhappy about seeing their bishop..removed. Now, if they'd only channel their anger into something learning what the Church actually teaches and why. Maybe someday...

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Aug. 12, 2011 6:07 PM ET USA

    These "committed,faithful and active Catholics" forget that God chose to work through a flawed humanity. They are ripe to start their own church, which they will find is not perfect, but will reflect their arrogant disobedience in the face of Jesus.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 12, 2011 6:02 PM ET USA

    So, why be Catholic? The whole premise of which is that the Church was founded by Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit concerning teachings about faith and morals.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 12, 2011 5:17 PM ET USA

    Perhaps living upside down so long has addled the pates of the good bishops?