I mentioned a day or so back the secrecy around the Bishops' meeting - well it took a week, but there is actually now a quite substantial media release out on what they discussed, and I'll reproduce some of it in a separate post.
On liberal bishops and the Pope
But on the more general problem of bishops' conferences, and more particularly the tension between traditionally oriented catholics who look primarily to the Pope for their hope, and their liberal local bishops, there are some really excellent articles out in the UK context that are well worth a read.
Not all of the analysis applies to Australia of course: unlike the UK, there is a sharp divide within the ACBC that means that instead of trying to present a unified position on absolutelyeverything, they present one on pretty much nothing at all. All the same, there is much that Australians can identify with.
On blogdom and the liturgy
Start with this one: Outside the Magic Circle, by Dominic Scarborough. My favourite paragraph is this:
"The “Catholic Taliban” tag is a slur on many devout and courageous lay Catholics who have stood up for the vulnerable for many years in preference to seeking perks and patronage from liberal bishops. Curiously, what the slur also seems to ignore is that if men such as Smeaton and Adamus constitute a “Catholic Taliban” there is no doubt that its “Mullah” is Pope Benedict XVI...." [Now that just cries out for some photoshopping!]
But his discussion of the bishops' Summorum Pontificum report back to the Vatican is also of interest (has anyone seen what was submitted for Australia???!), and the economist in me particularly liked his discussion of the "free market" pitches of recent Popes versus the Stalinist inclinations of the liberal establishment:
"This desire for liturgical uniformity comprising the Roman Missal of 1970 in its old ICEL English translation (nothing has yet been done to prepare for the new translation next year) has been threatened recently by several factors that have whittled away at the BCEW’s power. First are the large numbers of recent immigrants who attend non-English language Masses celebrated by their own priests. There have also been the spiritual “free market” policies of the “New Movements” (Focolare, Opus Dei, Youth 2000, etc.) promoted by Pope John Paul II, which have encouraged many Catholics to develop their spiritual lives outside of diocesan structures. And most recently there has been the “liturgical free market” of Pope Benedict XVI, with both the rehabilitation of the older form of the Roman Rite (Summorum Pontificum) and the invitation to Anglo-Catholics to form liturgical communities within the Catholic Church (Anglicanorum Coetibus).
All these factors are underpinned by the increasingly vociferous Catholic blogosphere, largely orthodox in character, which the BCEW simultaneously fears and despises in a way reminiscent of the Soviet regime’s attitude to the Eastern European underground free press. All these forces are at odds with the “Cultural Revolution” mentality of the BCEW."
And once you've read that great piece, take a look at some of the reactions to it (including in the comboxes):