What do Rosebank, Johannesburg, and Australia got in common? Read on…

When I saw on Cathnews a link to a document from the Rosebank Parish in Johannesberg, I thought “That’s a bit far afield, isn’t it?”. Then I saw that the link was to a paper reproduced in Catholica Australia, entitled: The Crisis in Ministry, and all the pieces began to fit together.

Same old same old, of course. Quick fix solutions that seem great over a glass of chardonnay on a sunny afternoon, but might not seem so great at 3am in the morning having to make an emergency call to anoint a dying person at the local hospital.

Expect no extensive commentary from me, except for a few observations.

The first is that the entire section of their second proposal “Optional Celibacy” is taken from the National Council of Priests in Australia 2004 document “Reflections on the Lineamenta”. Nice to know that we are a world leader in this area…

Secondly, their third proposal “Ordained Community Leaders”, citing St Paul’s letter to Titus, fails to recognise that this very passage is the basis for what they have called (in section one) Proposal 1 – Traditional Vocations. What do the authors think that priests are, if not “ordained community leaders”? Remember too, that St Paul was hardly in the position to set up seminaries for young men with vocations to the priesthood. If he were, I am sure he would have jumped at the chance. But this was the first generation of Christians, and the “ordained community leaders” he is talking about were the first bishops and priests of the Christian Church.

Third, note that there is no proposal about ordaining women or even asking the Church to resume discussion about it (although a footnote shows that it did come up in one of their meetings and 80% were in favour). If only the Australian petitioners could have been so wise.

Fourth, among the websites linked are: http://www.futurechurch.org and www.marriedpriests.org . Great company.

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