What +Coleridge said

On the ABC Religion and Ethics website, edited by Scott Stephens, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane began by saying what I said here in a comment about “crisis” being a perennial condition in the Church and also implying “judgement”.

But he goes on to say much more (and I commend his words to you for reflection during this pre-conclave moment), addressing a lot of things, including the 1998 Statement of Conclusions and the Morris Affair.

Pastor Mark is still having a go at me on his blog, and that’s his prerogative. I just repeat what I have already said: the particular business of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is not really my responsibility. I have a lot of other responsibilities as a lay person in the Church, including serving as the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, teaching my Anima classes, and above all caring for my family and bringing my children up in the fear and love of the Lord. That is more than enough to be going on with. I do believe that God has apportioned responsibility in the Church according to office, and the office of Church Government has not fallen to me. That is not a denial of the seriousness of the crisis – it is rather an affirmation of my own particular calling.

I would also like to thank Scott Stephens for a remarkably good job that he does in editing the ABC Religion and Ethics website. I am truly dismayed see Andrew West of the Religion Report developing in the same direction with the same bias and peddling the same misinformation that the previous holder of his position held. And listening to John Cleary on ABC Radio’s Sunday Night program and of course St Geraldine of Doogue on Compass is just an exercise in frustration. It seems to me that Stephens stands out head and shoulders above this pack as a true thinker, who can see more than just the canned version of the current situation in the Church and is capable of getting the real story told. That doesn’t mean that I always agree with him, but I do admire his work.

I am still waiting for my copy of George Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism to land in my post box, but I have been reflecting somewhat on Benedict’s particularly evangelical message. I was listening to this interview with Cardinal Napier of Durban on Vatican Radio, and he made this particular point, with which I thoroughly agree, that “the idea of the centrality of Christ” was foremost for Benedict XVI. Benedict spoke of the “encounter with Jesus” in a way that is more usually heard in evangelical preachers, but which I sense now is becoming more and more common to hear from our bishops and pastors (Cardinal Weurl of Washington is one person in particular who strikes me as having a very strong sense of this evangelical christocentrism).

I hear this too in Archbishop Mark’s comments with regard to the “humiliation” which the Church is currently experiencing:

But my hope is that out of this experience of horror and humiliation that there will emerge a purified and more genuine moral authority, grounded in the truth of Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and not on the kind of moral pride which arises from our own sense of our supposed moral excellence.

It is precisely because I am convinced that the Catholic Church is where the Paschal Mystery of Christ is most fully encountered and experienced that I am confident that the gates of hell – and this present crisis seems to have sprung straight from that portal – will not prevail against the Church. It is not “pope worship” (as one unpublished commentator put it to me recently) that this ‘ere blog is concerned with, but the Gospel of Jesus. Paradoxically it is here, in this Holy Church of Sinners-Seeking-Healing, that I find Christ.

Archbishop Mark says:

This is a time when we’re under pressure. There is no question the Church in the West, not just in Australia, is under pressure. We’re passing through a time of what seems to be institutional diminishment, and the temptation in such a moment can be to retire to a kind of protective bubble. The image I often use is that of circling the wagons. But I think that would be a huge mistake. This is precisely the moment to go deeper into the faith – in other words, to discover a new depth, the magnificence and the power of the good news which is in Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and then to go out. We must take the risk of going out, of rolling the wagons into new territory and preaching the gospel in new and imaginative ways. I think that’s what is required.

What he said. Sentire Cum Ecclesia Christi.

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.
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