Barney Zwartz has a version of Thursday night’s meeting in this morning’s paper (Catholics At War over Priest Crisis). War, Barney? That’s a bit strong, even for a journo trying to beat up a reason for getting a story on religion published on page four of the Saturday Age.
Well, if it is a war, then I am glad to report that there are no casualities yet–except, of course, the usual “first casualty” of war–Truth in reporting.
And you, Barney, appear to be partly responsible for this. I say this because I have serious doubts as to whether or not you were actually there. In other words, whose version IS this story?
I base my suspicions on two points:
1) the story appeared in today’s paper, and not yesterday’s, indicating that it took some time for Barney’s source to get the story to him; and
2) the fact that statements one would normally expect to be reported as the result of first hand experience have “Mr Collins said” appended to them, such as this:
Organiser Paul Collins said the busiest of the 700 people who went to Camberwell Civic Centre on Thursday night were the two security guards.
More than 20 protesters waving placards with slogans such as “we obey the pope” heckled and shouted, preventing most of the discussion, Mr Collins said.
“Mr Collins said”, Barney? Why, weren’t you there? Is this the level of reporting to which The Age has stooped, reporting events on the say so of the organiser of the event? There is no indication anywhere in the story that Barney took the trouble to speak to anyone else present at the meeting other than Mr Collins. Is this balanced reporting?
And what about this:
Both sides agree that the church in Australia is in crisis over the shortage of priests. Where they differ is the solution. Progressives want to reverse the 1000-year-old celibacy condition and to discuss women priests.
Conservatives believe importing priests from Asia and Africa is the solution until the number of Australian vocations grows.
Is that your opinion, Barney, or the opinion of Mr Collins? It suits Mr Collins to have you think that we “conservatives” believe in any such damn fool idea as “the solution”, when in fact “the solution” advocated by the “conservatives” is nothing so simple (or simplistic). The only “solution” which “conservatives” truly believe in is prolonged and faithful committment to evangelisation and catechisation in harmony with the teachings of the Church.
And who told you, Barney, that “both sides agree there is no theological reason why married men cannot be ordained”? Was that Mr Collins too? Or is that the result of your own discussion with “both sides”? For the record, while it is strictly true that priestly ordination can, according to the faith of the Church, be conferred upon married men, yet if Barney had bothered to consult “both sides” (and not just the one who acted as his source) he would have heard the many sound theological reasons why the Western Church has judged celibacy of priests and bishops to be most fitting.
So contrary to any information that Mr Collins may have fed you, Barney, the 1600 year old (NOT 1000 year old) tradition of celibate clergy in the West cannot simply be changed “with the stroke of the Pope’s pen”. It simply amazes me how much power the dissidents continually ascribe to popes and bishops. They make them virutually omnipotent when it comes to the power to change “at the stroke of a pen” (or a vote at the local bishops conference) the faith and tradition of the Holy Church.
Really, Barney. Next time try writing your own piece, based on your first hand eye-witness account, rather than letting Mr “Priest-forever” Collins write it for you.