The Canberra Times this Saturday has a rather sad tale of declining revenues in Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, partly it claims, as a result of the recent drought, and partly due to declining Church attendance.
Falling numbers at Mass means the diocese is doing a financial balancing act...
Over the last 15 years the number of people identifying themselves as Catholics in the Archdiocese has has increased about 20%, the story claims. But mass attendance almost halved in the same period.
The source of the article though is not Archbishop Coleridge (beyond lifting a few of his recent comments in the Voice about considering organisational options relating to the shortage of priests) but rather his Auxiliary, Bishop Power, supplemented by the diocese's equally liberal Vicar-General, Monsignor Woods.
Why people do not go to Mass: the liturgy
Earlier this year the Archbishop pointed once again to problems such as the loss of the sense of awe in the liturgy, the weakened sense of God engendered by the halls that masquerade as churches, the watered down wording of the liturgy, the loss of the use of ritual gestures, tawdry vestments and K-mart style vessels.
But perhaps the reason Canberra (like many other places) has still a mass attendance problem is that no serious effort seems to be being made to actually address the majority of these problems.
Even the worst looking Church can be made better at a relatively low cost with some effort: rip out the carpet, use nice altar clothes to cover the altar, and so forth.
Liturgy can be made more reverent if the priest sets his mind to it.
And there is surely nothing stopping the Archbishop from encouraging priests (and leading by example) to celebrate ad orientem?
The perceived or real barrier to acting though, I assume, is the tired old spirit of Vatician IIism trotted out yet again by the Archbishop's offsider.
According to Bishop Patrick Power...
The real problem, according to Bishop Power, is those dastardly laity (whose views are of course only to be respected when they align with the liberal perspective) who are "still hankering for pre-Vatican II days".
You mean the days when people actually went to Mass and supported the clergy financially bishop?
When, as Archbishop Coleridge acknowledged, there was a sense of awe in our worship, and an orientation to beauty instead of banality?
Oh and give us married priests and ?priestesses
Bishop Power also takes the opportunity to trot out his support for married clergy and return to the priesthood of those who abandoned their flocks.
Does he seriously think that the laity will suddenly put more in the plate for the privilege of supporting the families of those who broke their promises of chastity and obedience, and put the pursuit of personal gratification before service to the Church?
Well, I suppose we should at least be grateful that he didn't publicly reiterate his previously stated support for the ordination of women.