An alternative Petition

It distresses me that many parish priests are putting forwad the petition from Catholics For Renewal to their parishioners and telling them to sign it. Many well meaning Catholics, not aware that the petition contains elements contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, are signing the CFR petition.

We can’t stop that, unfortunately. But at least here is an alternative petition to sign:

I hope that in the near future I will be well enough and have the personal freedom to be able to blog more frequently. Thanks for sticking with SCE in the mean time!

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to An alternative Petition

  1. Dianne says:

    Here is one of example of the petition advertised on the front page of a parish Sunday bulletin.
    I know one elderly lady signed it thinking it was merely about the Church’s mishandling of sexual abuse and that by signing she was protesting this. This lady is of the type who reads and supports the journal AD2000.
    When the parish priest spoke of the petition, advertised in the bulletin, he used a quote from John Paul II (as if it would be the sort of thing that JPII would have supported!) to encourage signing of the petition.
    Thanks for your blog David and hope you’re better soon.

  2. PM says:

    Thanks and best wishes.

    If you want a chuckle while recuperating, see the last page of September’s Limelight, the program magazine of ABC Classic FM (which I often think is the only bit of the ABC worth keeping). It is an interview with Thomas Keneally turning into an old curmudgeon and pining, as a lapsed Catholic, for the plainchant and classical liturgical music of his youth rather than the ‘crappy stuff’ and ‘nonedescript low-church schlock’ they sing in church these days. The inclusivistas will be telling him in no uncertain terms to stay away!

  3. Clara Geoghegan says:

    Funny that, PM.
    I have been filling in at a school as liturgy co-ordinator. When I was unable to find a priest to say Mass for the staff, I was tempted to have a Morning Prayer liturgy, but thought that would be too challenging for them (yes this IS a catholic school) so I decided to go with a simpler Taize service – chant, psalm, gospel, silence, reflection, chant. Staff loved it because it was ‘new’ and ‘different’ compared to anything they had experienced before. I had to shatter their illusions by telling them it was based on an ancient model . . .

    • PM says:

      And it is no coincidence that it was the Mass for a school reunion of the class of ’52 that set Keneally off on his tirade. He was hoping he might hear some of the old stuff.

      I was talking the other day to someone who attended the Patrician Brothers’ school at Granville in Sydney in the 1940s – neither then nor now a socially elite establishment. He says he had four of the Gregorian mass ordinaries down pat, and a wide range of the propers and other chants. It’s really quite insulting to ordinary people to claim it’s all too hard.

  4. John Nolan says:

    If a parish priest were pushing this agenda, I would no longer be frequenting his church, and I’m surprised his bishop hasn’t something to say about it. I would also make it clear to him why he will not be seeing me or my money in the future. If it means travelling further to Mass and perhaps attending less frequently, then so be it; Sunday obligation dates from an era when the Mass was the same everywhere and you could be reasonably sure that the priest was not a heretic. The same goes for liturgical abuses; if they persist after you have drawn attention to them, then stay away. You will be avoiding an occasion of sin.

  5. matthias says:

    Pity i cannot sign as I am a Catechument. On another note Schutz,glad to hera your voice whenI spoke to you yesterday. Hopefully see you tomorrow night at the Cathedral EF Mass. I went on sunday night to the 6.30om Mass at St Patrick’s-it was excellent ,the singing by the choir was inspirational.

  6. Robert says:

    Oddly enough Keneally – for all the nonsense, sometimes pernicious nonsense, he has spouted on numerous other issues – was quite sensible as early as the 1980s concerning church music, and was gratifyingly rude about the “failed pop songs” (his phrase not mine) forced on Catholic congregations. I would not rule out a substantial improvement in Keneally’s whole world-view: it’s hard to keep being an adolescent hipster when you are, as he now is, 75 going on 76.

  7. Shan says:

    And signing either petition will accomplish… what?

    • Peregrinus says:

      Well, strictly speaking the later document isn’t a petition at all, since it doesn’t actually ask for anything, and asking for something is pretty much of the essence of a petition.

      The earlier document, by contrast, is a petition. It asks:

      – the Australian bishops to consider certain matters during the 2011 ad limina visit;

      – each bishop to convene a diocesan synod to discuss how the church might become a more authentic witness;

      – the Pope to “allow a return to a more accountable and consultative process for the appointment of bishops”.

      What is achieved by signing them? Well, simplistically, the signers of the first petition might hope that some or all of what they ask for might be granted. And in fact some of it probably will be. The bishops are invited, for example, to consider that the church no longer adequately inspires many communities; that with the shortage of priests its ability to provide the eucharist is increasingly limited; that it appears as an institution focussed on centralism, legalism and control; that it appears more concerned with its institutional image and interests than with the spirit of Christ; and more besides. I imagine the bishops are considering these issues. Quite frankly, any bishop who isn’t ought to resign. And if issues such as these don’t come up in the context of an ad limina visit, what is the use of an ad limina visit?

      In terms of more concrete outcomes – diocesan synods, and an improved process for appointing bishops – the signers might be hoping to get what they ask for or, more realistically, they might hope to create a climate in which the bishops and the pope realise that some concrete steps, if not these ones, are required, and they wait to see what those steps are.

      So far as the later document is concerned, I suspect that the main purpose of signing it is (a) to signal to the bishops that there are other strongly-held views in the church, and (b) to vent feelings.

      As I pointed out, the later “petition” doesn’t actually ask for anything, and I suspect that this is a deliberate tactical decision. People may recall that a few years ago there was a similar “battle of the petitions” in which the “conservative” counter-petition did ask for specific concrete steps to be taken – steps which, in fact, the bishops could not possibly deliver; steps which were much more unrealistic than the diocesan synods and new appointment processes called for here.

      There was, of course, criticism of this at the time. Some people argued that it showed that the promoters of the counter-petition had a completely distorted view of reality; they could not see that what they asked was utterly impossible. Others argued that they knew it was impossible, but that this was deliberate tactic designed to ensure rejection of their petition, so confirming a cherished victim-status. Still others argued that they asked for the impossible in order to demonstrate the strength of their feeling and the depth of their concern.

      Whatever the true reason, the whole thing was a fiasco. The petition never attracted more than a fraction of the signatures that the more progressive petition garnered, after some time it was quietly taken down from the web without explanation, and it was never presented to the bishops although the promoters had indicated that that was their intention.

      I suspect the organisers of this petition have learned a lesson from all this. They don’t want to set themselves up to fail. So they promote a strongly-worded document which nevertheless does not commit itself to action or call for any response. The only purpose of such a document is to signal strength of feeling, and of course it can still backfire if it only garners a (comparatively) small number of signatures.

      • Schütz says:

        I have no problem with the concrete requests of the “actual” petition (ie. the CFR one) as you identify them, Perry. My concern is that it includes the paragraph:

        “We were shocked at the lack of due process in the way Bishop Morris, a dedicated pastor, was removed from his diocese. We were dismayed by the failure to consult properly on the new English translations of our liturgy. We can no longer accept the patriarchal attitude towards women within our Church, and we fear that an extended claim to infallibility is stifling discussion on many important issues. These issues include some teachings on human sexuality, as well as new forms of ministry for women and married men; the latter an anomaly for a Church committed to equality, and which welcomes married ministers from other Christian traditions. These concerns undermine confidence and trust in you our leaders.”

        Personally, “we” (the author of SCE) is not “shocked” at any perceived “lack of due process” in the Morris affair. It appears that “process” was more than “due”.

        Nor are we “dismayed by the failure to consult properly on the new English translations of our liturgy” – since I know personally that consultation was indeed far reaching on this matter – much more so than with regard to the introduction of the old translation forty years ago.

        Nor do “we” have any concerns about any perceived “patriarchal attitude towards women within our Church” or any “extended claim to infallibility” that is supposed to be “stifling discussion on many important issues”.

        These so-called “important issues” – “teachings on human sexuality, as well as new forms of ministry for women and married men” – are not “policies” of the current Pontiff, but teaching of the Catholic Church.

        There is no “anomaly” in the fact that our Church is “committed to equality” (actually, to an equality of human rights, not to some bland equality of lack of differentiation), and also “welcomes married ministers from other Christian traditions” (when applicable and suitable).

        So, the actual requests of the CFR petition are largely unobjectionable. It is the opinions expressed in this “open letter” which are not “petitions” which I find objectionable.

        • Stephen K says:

          David, given your own affinities, I understand why you’d find such opinions objectionable. But surely there’s no need to be distressed. If the opinions are ignored or discounted, then the Church as you want her to be will continue unaffected; if they are embraced or used to guide changes, then surely that will be a response of the same Church to which you pledge allegiance. Either way, you will find yourself in a satisfactory circumstance.

          Wasn’t it Jesus who said we could not by worrying add one instant to our lives? Aren’t we all suffering from our craving that things should be “just so”? Seng-ts’an said the way of enlightenment was very simple, just avoid picking and choosing, holding on to the past or trying to manipulate the future. Perhaps this is a perfect time for us all to let go.

          • Gareth says:

            Bit of a cut and paste job from Pere on the requests of the first petition??

            If my memory serves me correct, the first counter- petition was doing good numbers wise countering the first petition that had a whole heap of the faithfuls pets named to it.

            • Peregrinus says:

              Well, I didn’t actually cut and paste, but I did adapt my statement of the requests in the first petition from the text of the first petition. What else would I do?

              I don’t have figures from the previous “battle of the petitions”. From memory, the original petition got something like 12,000 signatures. The counter-petition was taken down rather suddenly and quietly so few people really knew what figure it had reached before being taken down.

              To be quite honest, though, I wouldn’t attach huge importance to the figures that either of the current petitions reaches. For the record, checking just now I see that the first petition has 4,499 signatures, while the counter-petition has 435. But, of course, the first petition has been available for signature for a good deal longer. (I don’t know how much longer, since the website which hosts both petitions doesn’t give that information.)

              More to the point, though, I notice this statement in connection with the first petition: “Please note: ‘line voided’ usually indicates the removal of spam; voided spam is reported to petition site managers for investigation.” And there seem to be a fairly large number of lines voided in the list of signatures, but the voided lines are still counted by the software towards the 4,499 total.

              By contrast, the counter-petition has no such note.

              There are a couple of ways of interpreting this:

              – The counter-petition organisers are making no attempt to identify and delete span, in which case their 457 figure is just as rubbery as the 4,499 figure.

              – The counter-petition isn’t attracting spam, in which case their figure is more robust.

              – the counter-petition is identifying, deleting and not counting spam, but just not saying so, in which case their figure is very robust indeed.

              I’ve no idea which of these is the case.

              And the conclusion from all this? Well, there are two.

              1. Spammers ruin everything, including this. There is a special place in hell reserved for them.

              2. We probably shouldn’t pay too much attention to the number of signatures claimed by either petition. Apart from the uncertainty over the effect of spam on the numbers claimed, the truth is that the number of genuine signatures is affected by things like how well-organised the respective proponents are, how net-savvy they are, and other factors which have nothing to do with how sound their ideas are.

              Independently of the numbers, what these petitions do illustrate is the deep divergence of opinion within the church. A diversity of opinion is basically a good thing, in my view, but this is more than that; it’s a fundamental polarisation. And I think a “battle of petitions” like this not only reflects that polarisation; it intesifies it. I don’t think that’s a good thing, which is part of the reason why I haven’t signed either petition.

    • Clara says:

      With you on this Shan. I never sign these things – the lists of names just gives ammunition to those who want to pigeonhole people into immovable camps. Besides, the Church is not a democracy.

      • Gareth says:

        I think Shan meant that the Aussie Bishops (excluding Pell) havent really been seen to be doing anything productive for a long period of time now regarding the issues facing the Church, so it is useless asking them to do anything.

        All my own Bishop seems to do is read a few speeches at functions every now and then and be a passenger at WYD every three years.

        Catholics whatever their persuasion would probably be better served to do something other besides sign petitions if they want real action.

        • Shan says:

          Why would you exclude Pell from your description?

          And no, that’s not what I meant. Telepathy fail.

          • Gareth says:

            Because Pell at the very least acknowledges the issues facing the Church that require pressing need

            Whether or not one agrees with his actions to those needs (or lack of), he is the one Bishop that actually identifies major issues within the contemporary Australian Church community (state of religious instructions in Catholic schools and the state of teaching in Seminaries are issues that pop to the top of my head.).

            I dont necessary agree with everything he says or does by the way, but acknowledge at the very least in the past he has correctly publicly identified issues that affect me as a Australian Catholic. I cant say that of some of his brother Bishops and would therefore be sceptical that anysort of petition would achieve much.

        • Clara says:

          My response to Shan was that responding to petitions is not the modus operandi of the Catholic Church.

          I disagree that with you that all the Aussie bishops are unproductive. Some are very inspirational. You obviously don’t know many.

          • Gareth says:

            If you had a petition of your own personal list of what productive action needs to be taken within the contemporary Australian Church, how many Australian Bishops of the past forty years would you truly TRUST to at least follow-through with some measurable action.

            I can only speak for myself, a small few I am afraid.

            • Peregrinus says:

              But that suggests, Gareth, that you think “doing productive things” = “doing things that Gareth agrees with”.

              I can see, of course, why we all might think that our own ideas are the best ones. After all, we hold them because we think they’re good ideas. But it’s a bit of a jump to dismiss as “unproductive” a bishop who does not share our views. After all, common experience, common sense and common humility require us to concede that someone other than ourselves might have a good idea.

          • Peter says:

            I would agree with you there Clara.I am 56 and I cannot recall a time here in Victoria when we have had a better group of bishops.

            • Gareth says:

              I am not sure if I agree with you here Pere.

              Issues facing the Church such as the state of our Seminaries and religious instruction (or lack of) in Catholic schools are no simply a matter of ‘opinions’, they are issues that affect each and every Catholic in some way or the other.

              Another example is that in my own Diocese, we had not put forward one single seminarian for ten years and there appeared not one single comment from our Bishop about this. Unless one could demonstrate otherwise, I dont see how such an issue is what one group of Catholic agrees or disagrees with – they are a simply issue that needs some sort of active response on behalf of the Bishop.

              An assessment of some of the statements and issues that seem to be of pressing concern from the Australian Bishops Conferences in Australia obver the past forty years seriously suggest that the majority of Australian Bishops are not really on the mark when it comes to ‘productive action’.

            • Gareth says:

              Youre lucky you dont live in Queensland Peter?

            • Peregrinus says:

              Well, maybe. But we could point to lots of other issues which “affect each and every Catholic on some way or the other”. A few of those issues are mentioned in the Catholics for Renewal petition, in fact.

              I think there’s a little more to your test than “has this bishop said or done anything about issues that affect every Catholic?” After all, Bill Morris’s comments about the ordination of married men and discussion of the ordination of women were explicitly made in relation to the clerical shortage and the Eucharistic crisis that results. If your test of a productive bishop is whether he addresses such issues, then Bill Morris was a productive bishop. But the framers of the counter-petition clearly don’t think he was, and I doubt that you do either.

              I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to me that your qualified approval of Dr. Pell is not just because he talks about/addresses these issues, but because he does so <i?in a way which you (broadly) approve of, in contrast to Dr. Morris, who did so in a way that you (generally) did not approve of.

              Which is fair enough. But it does mean that your test of who is a “productive” bishop is a very subjective one, and that needs to be acknowledged.

              Likewise, on issues like religious formation in Catholic schools, or on liturgical questions, there are plenty of people who have strong views on these things which differ from yours. You may think that those people, and the bishops who are influenced by them or who appoint them to positions of responsibility, are not “productive”, but the fact is that they are addressing these issues, just not in the way you want. If they adopted your understanding of productivity they could say – and with equal validity – that your views are not “productive” because they do not meet with their approval.

            • Gareth says:

              I acknowledge that Bishop Morris at least was willing to identify issues of concerns but the actual mode of actions he put forward to remedy the issues were no-brainers that had been explicity stated by the Pope himself as something that Catholics are unable to pursue.

              Which, I find it hard to believe he didnt know or he wasnt willing to acknowledge.

              Accordingly, I assess Bishop Morris identification of issues that affect the Catholic community as somewhat of a publicity stunt where at least Pell puts moderatly sensible mode of actions forward and actually acts upon them (eg reforms of seminaries, investigastion into curriculum being teached in Catholic schools, establishing orthodox-orientated youth ministry etc).

              And fruits of his actions in some respect are starting to bear some fruit.

    • Hannah Smith says:

      Shan from my understanding one petition seeks to undermine the Pope’s authority and decision made by him regarding Bishop Morris and other “Catholics for Renewal ” agenda topics and the other peition seems to say we believe that the Holy Father knows the whole story and acted according to what he thought right.
      there is a world of difference in the peitions.

  8. matthias says:

    Probably let the Pope know that there are some Catholics who don’t see their faith as needing to be culturally relevant. The Uniting Chutch is and as a whole it is a dead church,except for a few faithful congregations.

  9. Peter says:

    It is a little frustrating to hear people say “bishops never do anything” when it is more about them not hearing anything the bishop has done. 95% of what bishops do is confidential or, at least, prudently discrete to avoid people confounding their every move. Just because Pell hasn’t confided in you personally on his moves lately doesn’t give anyone license to make uncharitable assumptions write him off as inactive on important issues.

    Re: the petition. They have the right to sign it and wave it around all they like. Good luck to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *