They claim to want 'dialogue'. A chance to explain just what they really mean, and how it doesn't conflict with the Church's teachings (yeah right!). A chance to ask questions, raise the hard issues.
But when the opportunity or indeed requirement to go to Rome to do just that arises, they refuse.
Given a chance to 'dialogue' they reject it...add Bishop Power to the list
We all know about Bishop Morris, formerly of Toowoomba's, refusal to go to Rome when asked to explain his actions, because his priests, seeking to defend his position actually made clear just how hard Rome had tried to work with Bishop Morris, how long they had tolerated the intolerable.
And then there is Bishop Patrick Power, still publicly identifying himself as Auxiliary of Canberra-Goulburn.
For some reason he didn't go on the recent ad Limina to Rome.
But that hasn't stopped him stirring the pot over at Eureka Street, and releasing a letter to assorted Toowoomba malcontents claiming that 'Bishop Bill' and indeed the whole diocese are 'victims of a great miscarriage of justice'.
Of course, Bishop Power's own advocacy of women priests and the rest of the usual swag of liberal causes has long been on the public record.
So why didn't either Bishop Power or Bishop Morris actually go to Rome themselves for a face-to-face discussion with the relevant Vatican dicasteries not to mention the Pope?
Is their claim to courage in tackling the 'big questions' valid? Or is it actually quite the reverse?
At the very least they should abandon the hypocrisy of claiming financial and other support from the Church that they have publicly turned on.
But maybe their actions are more a case of clownage?
In Bishop Power's case, we can only hope that in fact the reason he didn't go to Rome is that his resignation has already been accepted, just not yet announced. It needs to be, fast.
But that shouldn't mean either he or Bishop Morris has a license to launch endless potshots from the seemingly safe distance of dissenting Australian websites and the secular media!
They are protestants in the true sense...
Of course, the reason offered for this strange reluctance to actually engage in person with the Holy See is that it will not be 'real dialogue'. Indeed, Bishop Power's latest letter says on Bishop Morris that:
"I admired how step by step he tried to have an honest conversation with Vatican officials and finally with the Pope himself. I do not believe that he always felt that there was genuine reciprocity in the dialogue."
And the test of real dialogue? Getting what they want of course!
As one commenter over at Eureka Street, on Father Hamilton's last piece over there attacking the Australian bishops noted:
"If the process of dialogue with Bishop Morris was to be open and transparent, it seems to me that the Pope and Rome would have had to risk talking about, in a public way, what they have decided should not be discussed: the possibility of women priests. Benedict XVI has passed on an opportunity that may have had in it the possibility of change..."
But! That would be because this is a decision that cannot be changed!
In fact, quite the best comment on Fr Hamilton's latest defense of Bishop Morris was from Eureka Street contributer Moira Rayner in praise of his piece:
"Beautifully put. My protestant heart replies, that simple authority is never the answer..."
What it means to be Catholic
There is, of course, room for discussion in the Church on matters of both theology and pastoral practice. Yet to be Catholic means to accept that there are limits to this discussion, set by revelation as interpreted by proper authority, and by the governing authority making pastoral judgments about what currently serves the best interests of the Church.
Bishop Power says that "Surely in a healthy Church we should be able to 'speak the truth in love'. I do not believe any of us are doing justice to the mission of Jesus when we neglect to name the issues which are haemorrhaging the Church at the moment." Yet to be Catholic means to believe that truth is an absolute, not something that changes with the fashions.
Bishop Power repeatedly questions 'authoritarianism' in the Church. Yet to be Catholic is to belong to a Church that is hierarchically constituted, with the Pope having the authority to do what is necessary to safeguard the tradition handed down to us.
Yet these men continue to be supported by our offerings!
There is a point where action has to be taken to put a stop to this ongoing attack on the Church from within. And it is now!
What, after all, is the real risk?
If these bishops were laicized yet went ahead anyway and ordained more dissenting priests, how would that be different from the current situation?! And anyway, the would-be schismatics are mostly of a certain age now, and surely little threat to the long-term of the Church.
And if they purported to ordain women as priests, it would simply be of no effect - and indeed probably serve to invalidate any chance that other orders conferred by a schismatic movement were valid, for want of proper intention.
But on the other side, their continued status as Catholic bishops risks leading many souls astray.
And they force too many others to hide out in their ghettos, to attend Sunday Mass and no more, or even to leave altogether in disgust.
Enough is enough.