Friday, 13 February 2009

Tim and dissers....

Courtesy of Catholic World News:

  • The club of Australian bishops who publicly dissent on issues such as women's ordination and clerical celibacy (see in particular media regular Patrick Power) has been joined vocally by the Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, who has revealed that he has been under investigation by the Vatican for the last two years after a pastoral letter on the subject and may well lose his job.
  • Note the article I've provided a link to above also gives an update on the Kennedy affair, with Archbishop Bathersby indicating that he is prepared to have Fr Kennedy forcibly ejected from St Mary's.
  • Our Tim (former Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tim Fischer) has formally taken up his new role as Australia's first permanent Ambassador to the Holy See (up til now the job has usually been combined with Ambassador to Ireland or some other such sinecure).

1 comment:

Terra said...

I have received a rather rude rant to the effect that it is unfair to characterize questioning clerical celibacy as dissent. First let me remind all would be commenters that I do actually expect a degree of civility if you wish to be published on this blog. If you want to rant without constraint, set up your own blog. Or join the acatholica forum (or perhaps you have long been a member thereof??)

On the substantive point however let me point out that dissent doesn't necessarily just refer to matters of belief. It is true that clerical celibacy is a discipline rather than a doctrine. I admit when I wrote the headline I was mainly thinking of women’s ordination (which is a matter of doctrine).

But even on matters of discipline we do have to be careful - sure we (as laypeople) can question and discuss, but not, generally speaking, in a way so as to undermine the observance of church law.

A bishop however actually has a duty under Canon Law ‘to foster the discipline which is common to the whole church, and so to press for the observance of all ecclesiastical laws’ (CL 392). That doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t raise questions in appropriate ways and forums of course. But I think it is pretty fair to characterize something as dissent when a bishop, in a pastoral letter (Advent 2006), canvasses ‘possible solutions’ for the looming shortage of clergy in his diocese such as:
* ordaining married, single or widowed men who are chosen and endorsed by their local parish community;
* welcoming former priests, married or single, back to active ministry;
* ordaining women, married or single;
* recognising Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church Orders.

Doesn’t sound like teaching the faith to me, and all a bit above his paygrade in terms of options to deal with the crisis in his diocese! But I guess we’ll see what the Vatican ruling is soon by the sound of it…