Where locals fear to tread…

Sometimes foreigners can say things that locals would not be caught dead saying (except, that is, the inhabitants of the Cloister, who have that special type of diplomatic immunity that comes with anonymity).

A case in point is Rocco Palmo’s (oversimplified but basically correct by all accounts) summation of Australian Catholic ecclesiastical politics on his blog “Whispers in the Loggia”:

To bring everyone up to speed, in recent months a high-profile apostolic visitor from abroad [another foreigner from the same shores as Rocco Palmo, we understand] was reportedly dispatched to a rural diocese where, faced with a priest shortage reaching dire proportions, the ordinary used a pastoral letter to muse on the ordination of women and married men as a means to replenish the numbers; in an interview last week, another senior prelate lamented the church’s tendency for being too removed from its own and characterized “radical right-wing Catholics” as “taking the place of God” and being driven to “cut” their opposition’s “head off” (whilst simultaneously defending Humanae vitae); and Bishop Pat Power, the Canberra auxiliary for whom ribbing established teaching is usually akin to breathing, noted in an open letter that “many loyal and committed Catholics want a more open and thorough examination of the issues around the ordination of women.”

Even for all that, though, the controversy is poised to ratchet to a new level… While the continent-nation’s market of ecclesial polemics has been largely dominated by Power – Oz’s answer to the retired Detroit auxiliary Thomas Gumbleton – on the left, and its senior churchman, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, on the right, the retired Sydney auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson hasn’t been known for his outspokenness.

The rest of the blog entry is about Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s new book. But he has pretty well nailed the Australian ecclesiastical landscape in those few paragraphs. Scary (do you spell “scary” with or without an “e”?) how someone on the other side of the Big Pond can know so much about what is happening Down Under, isn’t it. Just goes to show you the power of blogging and the internet communication age.

BTW, Rocco has been covering the media frenzy on the Robinson book quite thoroughly. But he hasn’t told us yet just what he thinks of it.

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