It’s old news to most Australian Catholics by now (meaning, it has been known for about 24 hours already), but I still find it somewhat incredible that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference have actually issued a statement censuring a member of their own collegium. They are, of course, quite right to do so, for as the statement points out, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s book “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church”, does indeed pose “doctrinal difficulties”. But what I find surprising is that the ACBC has gone so far as to actually issue a statement to that effect–a sure sign that here in Australia (as with the USCCB in the States) the bishops are past ignoring direct challenges to the faith of the Church, even–and perhaps especially–if it comes from within their own ranks.
Robinson was not, of course, at the recent meeting of his brethren when the topic of his book came up. He was, in fact, on a tour of the Untied States promoting the very volume for which he has been censured (talk about a dereliction of duty…). There he will be appearing in a number of locations, including a Voice of the Faithful meeting, a Future Church meeting, at “St. Susanna’s Parish Hall (Downstairs)”, AND (…wait for it…) at St Mark’s LUTHERAN Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Birds of a feather…?
Among other things, the Bishops censure their brother for
- questioning of the authority of the Church
- uncertainty about the knowledge and authority of Christ himself
- questioning of Catholic teaching on, among other things, the nature of Tradition, the inspiration of the Holy Scripture, the infallibility of the Councils and the Pope, the authority of the Creeds, the nature of the ministerial priesthood and central elements of the Church’s moral teaching
Whatever else this might mean for the Australian Church it means this: the bishops are not going to tolerate any silly business with regard to faith. And their lack of tolerance is not a lack of love, but a truly pastoral concern as they themselves explain:
People have a right to know clearly what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, and the Bishops have a corresponding duty to set this forth, as we seek to do in this statement.
We at Sentire Cum Ecclesia would simply like to make it known that we are extremely grateful to our most reverend Pastors for their constant vigilance and assure them of our prayers and support.