It provides, perhaps, some indication of just how focused our bishops are on reaching out to their people and providing an alternative to the largely anti-catholic mainstream media.
So I thought I'd do a quick run through, on what - if anything - the websites have up on the election of Pope Francis!
I'll do this in a couple of parts, working across the country from the other side...
Perth, as you would expect, does have some coverage on its website, with a nice piece and piccies on the announcement, and a nice message from Archbishop Costelloe.
Here are some extracts:
"It is with a sense of real joy that I welcome the election of Pope Francis as the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Like all Catholics I am very excited and encouraged by this news. Pope Francis is widely admired as a man of simplicity and humility and he brings to the papacy extensive pastoral experience from his time as the archbishop of Buenos Aires. The pope's choice of "Francis" as his new name evokes for us the spirit of poverty and simplicity of St Francis of Assisi. Perhaps, too, given that Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, he is directing us to the great evangelizing energy of the Jesuit St Francis Xavier.
The great challenge for Pope Francis is to help us all to re-awaken our faith in Jesus Christ, who proclaimed himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and to lead us as we seek to deepen our commitment to Christ and to his Church....
In the name of the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth I pledge our obedience and loyalty to Pope Francis. We know that it is only through our communion with the whole Church, symbolized and made concrete through our communion with the Bishop of Rome, that we can be faithful to God's call and confident of our fidelity to the task of offering to the world the precious gift of Christian faith in all its integrity, a gift which we believe the world desperately needs.
I invite all Catholics to pray for the new Pope as he begins his daunting task..."
The rest of the West
But as for the rest of the West. Yes I know it is another country and distracted by the mining boom, but...
Broome - Nothing. The latest media release listed on the website is from 2009(!) and the diocesan magazine is a quarterly, last out in December 2012. If the bishop is putting out pastoral letters, it isn't obvious.
**The Archdiocese of Sydney does, however, report Bishop Saunders' views in his capacity as Chair of the Australian Catholic Justice Council:
"As the Catholic Church in its entirety welcomes the new Holy Father, Francis, those who are in need or are marginalised can take heart that they have a champion in the new Pope who cares for them," says Bishop Christopher Saunders, Bishop of Broome and Chairman of the ACJC. "Those committed to a preferential option for the poor will find encouragement in the leadership of this Pope. His life as Archbishop of Buenos Aires has been a testimony to compassion and the need for justice in our day."
Bishop Saunders says that those in Australia who live on the margins of society, the nation's Indigenous people and asylum seekers in particular, must be heartened by the election of Pope Francis, who by the very name he has chosen, promises a new way of living and caring for our neighbours in need."
Bunbury - Similarly devoid of any recent content.
Geraldton - Still featuring the bishop's Christmas message.
Darwin doesn't have a current news page.
The website has a news flash on the Pope's first Mass, and Archbishop Wilson has put out a media statement welcoming the election of Pope Francis:
"Archbishop Philip Wilson has welcomed the “wonderful news” of the
election of Pope Francis I in Rome this morning.
He described the former Cardinal of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio SJ, as
a man of simplicity with great compassion for others and a strong advocate
for social justice.
“The choice of Cardinal Bergoglio provides further opportunity for renewal
of the Church – following the decision of Pope Benedict to resign –
particularly as he is our first Pope from Latin America and our first Jesuit
Pope,” he said.
“He is renowned for being a voice for the voiceless, a man of prayer and a
humble servant of the Lord.
“I am sure he will provide great leadership in these challenging times for
both the Church and our world.
“On behalf of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, I offer my congratulations, my
prayers and support for Pope Francis I at this most joyful time.”
One might have expected perhaps to see a statement from Australia's only Jesuit bishop, welcoming the election of one of his order. But perhaps Pope Francis represents the more traditional strand of Jesuit spirituality not shared by Bishop O'Kelly SJ?
In fact the website is still publicizing Geraldine Doogue's ABC Show 'Beyond Benedict'! Mind you the tabletista view of the world represented by Ms Doogue's show is still a step up from the interview being promoted on the diocesan website with leading heretic Sr Joan Chittester...