Category Archives: Catholicism

Prof John Haldane’s first lecture – better than I expected

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne announced on its website that ‘Professor Haldane is once again in Australia, this time leading an important Catholic educational, cultural and societal project in partnership with the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS).

As part of his visit, he is offering a six-part virtual lecture series entitled The Catholic Contribution, which begins on Thursday 14 October with the question: “What does it mean to be Catholic?”’

One does not know what to expect these days when such an announcement is made about the Church and its history. So, I watched the first lecture, ‘Introduction: What does it mean to be Catholic?’ with curiosity – and some trepidation. No need for the trepidation. The lecture and its tight delivery were excellent. I will be watching the next five.

The ABC has geared up…

When a picture is worth a thousand words…

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Shock! Horror!
Perrottet is a Catholic

Roger Franklin Quadrant, 7 October 2021

As the dust settles after Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation and what is reported to be the imminent elevation of Dominic Perrottet to the post of NSW premier, Australia’s newsroom hacks thought they heard the faint tinkle of sanctus bells and made like Pavlov’s dogs, slobbering hints and imputations about the danger of having a leader who is not only a Catholic but a conservative Catholic to boot.

And put the boot in they surely did and will, Catholicism being, as Tony Abbot found and William F. Buckley observed, the last socially acceptable target for prejudice. Predictably, Their ABC immediately centred the papist premier-to-be in its crosshairs, even dragging in Perrottet’s school years:

…as a child he attended the Roman Catholic school Redfield College in Dural, which is run by Opus Dei priests.

The Opus Dei sect has been tied to secretive dealings, along with aggressive recruitment methods and accusations of elitism and misogyny.

Read the rest here…

Big changes in Melbourne archdiocese – who knows about it?

From the website Melbourne Faithful:

‘On 22 May 2021, Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli announced that the Melbourne Archdiocese would be undergoing a radical and wholesale restructure – converting 209 parishes into 50 to 60 Missions. The Archbishop has called this restructure “Take the Way of the Gospel”. The Archbishop’s hope is that the restructure will bring vitality back to our parishes.’

See the rest here…

‘Sister’ Nathalie Becquart – symbol of the Church’s future?

Nathalie Becquart is a member of the French order Xavière Sisters. estasblished in 1921, thus one hundred years old. The order is (to quote) ‘achored in the St Ignatius of Loyola’s Spirituality and rooted in his spiritual exercises’ (my translation.) I have had a look at their website.

From the description, you would think it a traditional female religious order. But the description of a traditional religious order is in stark contrast with the many photos of a joyous group of women in full colourful mufti – all smartly coordinated. Hardly a reflection of Ignatian spirituality, if your mind works according to usual associations, and if you have a traditional conception of the Ignatian exercises. But the person of Ms Becquart raises for me a far more chilling contrast than aspects of clothing.

Sr. Nathalie Becquart, a member of the Xavière Sisters in France, is one of the two new undersecretaries for the Vatican's office of the Synod of Bishops, appointed Feb. 6 by Pope Francis.

Sr Becquart has recently been in Australia to talk about – or rather give a pep talk to followers of her very particular vision of the Church. Bergoglio appointed Becquart as one of two new undersecretaries for the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops. This is a powerful position in Begoglio’s ecclesial vision, so it’s useful to know Sister’s thoughts on the Church, synodality, and all that.

Well, we get an unambiguous view inside sister’s head in an interview she gave to Global Sisters Report: a Project of National Catholic Reporter. The interview is titled: Q & A with Sr. Nathalie Becquart: Upcoming synod could ‘turn a clerical church into a synodal church’.

Continue reading ‘Sister’ Nathalie Becquart – symbol of the Church’s future?

The Fifth Plenary Council of Australia – whose idea was it?

The first sessions of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will take place between 3 and 10 October 2021. There has been a great deal of chatter about the Council within Church circles, Indeed, the rhetoric about ‘deep listening’ and ‘discernment’ and the ‘Synodal Church’ has been thrashed to death. But who started all this? Where did it all come from?

Well, Barb Fraze for (liberal) online CRUX tells us the originator was Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who recently announced his support for a separatist voice of Aboriginals in the Australian Constitution. Coleridge, a Francis devotee, is a supporter of such progressive causes.

In 2015, the archbishop was attending the Synod of bishops in Rome when he was illuminated by what seemed to him ‘the work of the Holy Spirit.’ Why not a Plenary Council for the Church in Australia in which the Synod’s mode of ‘discernment’ could be put into action ?

And so, it came to pass that after much organisational work, the first sessions of the Plenary Council were set for early October (3-10 Oct.) Barb Fraze projects much enthusiasm about the Plenary Council’s prospects, no doubt shared by Archbishop Coleridge and the organisers. But let me focus on several important elements in Ms Fraze’s report.

First, the Plenary Council will not be any old Council with a lot of boring unapproachable clerics, adding more bricks to the fortress of clericalism. No, it will involve the laity – women, the young and other marginalised people.

Second, it will be synodal in form. ‘Synodality’, says Fraze, is a buzzword these days in Catholic circles.’ It certainly is. But don’t pass over the word too quickly. Synodality, announced Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, quoting Francis, ‘is not so much about deeper reflection on this or that theme as it is about learning a new way of living as church’ and this deep reflection is to be “marked at every level by mutual listening and by a pastoral attitude, especially when faced with the temptations of clericalism and rigidity.”

There you have it – the glorious new church, ripped from the ruins of clericalism, sexual abuse, and people lost in stone-age ‘rigidity’. The rigid ones are to be counselled and failing counselling are to be cast into the darkness where they will not interrupt the free and open dialogue of discernment and deep listening.

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In Plenary Council, Australians search for ‘a new way of living as church’

By Barb Fraze Sep 26, 2021 Catholic News Service.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of the listening and dialogue phase of the Australian Catholic Church’s Plenary Council, 220,000 Australians answered the question, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

In 2015, Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge was asking himself something similar. Australia was in the midst of a government-mandated investigation into sexual abuse in the church. Australian Catholics were leaving the church.

The Brisbane archbishop was at the Vatican, attending the Synod of Bishops on the family. It was there he had an idea that “seemed to me at the time and still seems to me the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“For the first time — certainly at a Roman synod — I saw discernment in action,” Coleridge wrote earlier this year. “It was messy and unpredictable; at the halfway mark it looked very unlikely that we would achieve anything worth achieving. Yet at the end we did produce something which wasn’t the last word, but which was a real contribution to the ongoing journey of the church.

Read the rest here…

Book awards for theological works

The Australian Catholic University proudly announced that two of their theologians scored the ATF Literary Trust Theological Book Prize for 2021. They are Fr Ormond Rush and Dr David Newheiser.

Here’s what the ACU said about Fr Rush’s book, The Vision of Vatican
II: Its Fundamental Principles
.

“‘It is difficult to overestimate the magnitude of the achievement of Ormond Rush’s Vision of Vatican II. The author offers a remarkable tour de force of the theological and ecclesial principles the author discerns in the documents, background and fundamental vision of Vatican II. Rush does this from the vantage point of half a century of critical engagement, reflection and reception within the wider ecumenical Church. Combining a breadth and depth of scholarship with creativity and insight the author provides a foundational theological resource not simply for students and theologians of Vatican II but for all who would seek to understand some of the great themes that have preoccupied the hearts and minds of Christians in the 20th and 21st century.”

And Dr Heiser’s book, Hope in a Secular Age:

In a post structuralist environment in which the meaning of language is dissipated by multi layered critical analysis Newheiser undertakes a defence of the central Christian idea of hope.

“In an informed and sophisticated manner Newheiser interrogates the resources of the rich tradition of Christian mystical thought. The ‘darkness of unknowing’ in the mystical tradition (Dionysius) and in post-modern notions of deferral (Derrida) provides Newheiser with parameters to engage in the meaningful development of Christian
language in a contemporary context. This fine exegetical and philosophical study offers a highly original, insightful and persuasive account of a hope that is at once ethical, political and spiritual.”

Let me guess. In these (for most people) impenetrable works, there won’t be too much reference to classical realist epistemology and metaphysics, or to Christian Aristotelianism. Behind Derrida and such companions we may sniff the sour odour of Hegel and Marx.

The process of fitting a square peg into a round hole goes on.

Diocesan Assemblies promote the narrative

Cathnews (21 Sept.) reported the activities on the Adelaide Diocesan Assembly 2021 under the title of ‘Diocesan Assembly shows the benefit of “deep listening”.’

The assembly drew many participants – 400 representatives of various bodies, not just parishes. It is curious, though not surprising, to see CathNews quoting those regurgitating the rhetoric of the soon-to-open Fifth Plenary Council of Australia. Here’s a sample:

‘Issues [discussed] included outreach and accompaniment of young people and families, inclusion and healing, parish life and liturgy, responding to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and leadership and formation.

Each group discussed two themes and through a listening, dialogue and discernment process came up with 144 recommendations.

Diocesan Assembly coordinator Peter Bierer said the first two sessions of the assembly highlighted the value of “deep listening, withholding judgement, noticing our own biases and feelings, discernment and community”.

Forgive my scepticism, but those exhorted to deeply listen and withhold judgement and suppress biases about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, Church governance, clergy, and female priests would be people like me. If I ever aired my traditional views about the Catholic Church and its traditional beliefs at such an assembly I would be told in short terms to shut my mouth.

But there is no risk of the need for that sort of suppression. I would never attend such a gathering. Once bitten, twice shy. The one experience of nearly forty years ago was enough. Indeed, the parish priest once lectured me from the pulpit – not by name , of course. But I got the message when he unabashedly fixed his reprimanding eyes on me while condemning resistance to the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’.

As an aside, I remark there is hardly a man to be seen in the report’s colour photo showing the Assembly’s participants.

The Conciliar series

The CONCILIAR SERIES will consist of six connected but stand-alone stories. The themes of the ‘Goddess’, neo-paganism, the occult and Gnosticism are threads running through the stories.  The Second Vatican Council and the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (1965-1975) form the background to the series. The Second book, FEELINGS DIE NOT IN SILENCE was released September 2021. DESCENT INTO HADES: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, book 3 in the series, is due for release 27 September 2021, COUNTERCULTURE DREAMS, book 4 (tentative title), is due April 2022.

Lutheran Pope? Non-Catholic pope? the Anti-Pope?

In his youtube video, Pope Francis says “Commandments NOT as Absolutes” – Is Francis Lutheran? Rahner’s Fundamental Option, Dr Taylor Marshall tackles Pope Bergoglio’s recent comments on the Ten Commandments.

At a General Audience (August 2021), Bergoglio asked two questions: ‘Do I live in the fear that if I don’t do this or that I will go to hell?’; and ‘Do I despise the Commandments? No. I observe them, but not as absolutes because I know that what justifies me is Jesus Christ.”‘

Marshall compares the “Fundamental Option” theology of the Jesuit Karl Rahner with Bergoglio’s non-absolute view of the Ten Commandments. Rahner’s fundamental option, Marshall says, is the critical choice for God or against God. If you choose for God, you’re on your way to heaven no matter how many sins you commit.

Marshall relates his exchange with a priest who declared ‘straight out’ that even if he died lying on a prostitute, he would go to heaven once he had chosen God as his fundamental option. He goes on to compare some key statements of Martin Luther on ‘Justification’.

Luther: Be a sinner and sin boldly.

Luther: If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid ten commandments, tell him right out: chase yourself to the Jews; to the gallows with Moses. (Luther’s Works 35:159)

Luther: God only obliges you to believe and confess. In all other things he leaves you free, Lord and Master, to do whatever you will without any danger to your conscience; on the contrary, it is certain that, as far as He is concerned, it makes no difference whether you leave your wife, flee from your Lord, and are unfaithful to every obligation. What is it to Him if you do or do not do such things. (Werke, Weimar ed., XII, pp. 131 ff)

In a searching examination, Dr Marshall offers an answers to the questions raised here.

Note: There is a statue of Martin Luther in St Peter’s Cathedral, and the Vatican issued a stamp celebrating Martin Luther, celebrations unimaginable pre-Vatican Council II

Anatomy of culpable police and legal incompetence

In the 3 September edition of the Catholic Weekly, Fr Frank Brennan provides a lucid summary of his book Observations of the Pell Proceedings. One should read this book and Keith Windschuttle’s even more penetrating The Persecution of George Pell, but this article is enough to demonstrate convincingly the abject police and legal failure that locked up an innocent man for 404 days.

One wonders how deep Marxist Daniel Andrews had his fingers in this legal abomination. Evidence is his fury at the news Tony Abbott visited an innocent man in prison and his angry public declaration after the High Court 7-nil decision that WE SEE YOU, WE HEAR YOU, WE BELIEVE YOU. With this, the premier of Victoria gave his finger to the centuries-old foundational legal principle that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. Daniel Andrews is totally unfit for any executive government office, let alone that of heading a state.

As for the claim, uttered by ABC giants such as Barrie Cassidy, that Cardinal Pell was freed on a legal technicality, that is absolute rubbish, grasped at by the bigoted who would say anything rather than face the truth. Fr Brennan’s article shows the High Court quashed the verdict on the blaring evidence that the absurd case against the cardinal could not be sustained.

The Catholic Weekly deserves praise and credit for publishing two articles about the Pell injustice.

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Fr Frank Brennan: Anatomy of a travesty

A case that should never have happened

It’s time to declare that George Pell is innocent of the preposterous charges he faced in the County Court of Victoria and to move on for the good of everyone, including bona fide complainants and victims of child sexual abuse in institutions.

Because of the suppression orders put in place by the County Court, you were unable to follow the trials of Cardinal George Pell day by day. That’s why I was asked to attend the proceedings. That’s why I have published a book, Observations on the Pell Proceedings – so you can make your own assessment of the evidence.

My book is dedicated ‘to those who seek truth, justice and healing and to those who have been denied them’. Having followed the Pell proceedings closely, I am convinced that the case did nothing to help bona fide complainants, victims, and their supporters.

I write in the introduction: “The failures of the Victoria police, prosecution authorities, and the two most senior Victorian judges in these proceedings did nothing to help the efforts being made to address the trauma of institutional child sexual abuse. As a society we need to do better, and the legal system needs to play its part.”

I am convinced that light and healing can be more readily sought and hoped for if appropriate steps are taken to correct the errors made in the Pell proceedings. The compounding errors resulted in the unanimous judgment of the High Court of Australia which placed the Victorian criminal justice system in a very poor light.

I was left in no doubt. Cardinal Pell was innocent of these charges. He should never have even been charged.

Read the rest here…