Monday, 4 April 2011

New bishop for Maitland-Newcastle: Fr William Wright*** updated

Newcastle has a new bishop, Fr William (Bill) Wright of Sydney (picture from the Catholic Weekly).

The Press release gives the following background on him:

"Reverend William Wright was born on 26 October, 1952 in Washington D.C. He was educated in Sydney and the UK and completed his secondary schooling at Jesuit Fathers St Aloysius’ College in Milsons Point.

He entered the Seminary for the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1971, studying first at St Columba’s College, Springwood before proceeding to St Patrick’s College, Manly.

He has served as parish priest in a number of Sydney parishes including Dulwich Hill and Bonnyrigg-Edensor Park. Father Wright has been the parish priest of Liverpool since 2009.

He served as the Vice Rector of the Seminary between 1985 and 1991, and as an Assistant Secretary to the Bishops Conference in 1995.

He is currently serving as the Chairman of the Catholic Schools Board of the Archdiocese of Sydney and is the representative of the Western Deanery on the Council of Priests."

Please pray for the bishop-elect, he'll need your prayers!

Anyone know anything about him from a sympathy to trads perspective?

**Updates: And folks please, show some respect for the Office and take care in your wording, paying attention to general catholic principles relating to commenting on individuals. On reflection I've deleted two comments I originally let through as not meeting those standards - those commenters are invited to resubmit a more considered wording of their comments. All I'm really asking for is some tact!

But the substance of them is that this is not good news for traditionalists.

!!!!  It is definitely not good news.  For the latest, see this story about the complaint currently with Rome over his refusal to allow a Extraordinary Form Mass.  And more on his curious views about catering for special groups, even in the Ordinary Form, here.

Fr Wright by reputation...

 I do urge respect, tact and the avoidance of detraction or calumny.  For some guidance on what that does and doesn't allow, let me recommend this useful discussion, with which I pretty much agree.  Note that things that are in the public domain are generally fine to discuss (subject to prudent judgments), particularly given the legitimate interest in the subject. 

So let me paraphrase what I've been told or read so far.  One commenter noted that Fr Wright was associated with Manly Seminary at a time when it had a less than stellar reputation morally and theologically.   Indeed, you can read Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott's description of this period from his famous Bulletin article here.  Fr Wright wrote a response to him, accessible  here

Others suggested that he is a liberal who is unlikely to be a lively reformer of the diocese's ills and likely to be a problem for traditionalists (I guess Cath News' decision to put the smiling face of AB Wilson rather than of the bishop-elect with the story, plus Fr Wright's reference to his friendship with the extremely  liberal  Bishop of Toowoomba in the Catholic Weekly story could be taken as clues...).  Certainly the acatholicas seem to be excited about the appointment (but then they are excitable folk, and no actual substance has been offered in support of this enthusiasm beyond Fr Wright's response to Mr Abbott which I personally don't find that decisive - one can fully understand both perspectives articulated in the articles!).

But for a more positive reaction from what appears to be an orthodox commentator judging by his last few posts (though I admit I don't follow this forum closely) take a look over at Cath Pews.

In any case, I urge those most directly affected not to despair, but to pray!

Bishop Malone

There is an article on the appoint in the Newcastle Herald that includes some interesting comments by retiring Bishop Malone:

" Bishop Malone told the Newcastle Herald last night that he regretted his early handling of sex abuse cases involving the clergy but hoped his later actions helped victims.

‘‘For a whole raft of reasons, including sexual abuse by some clergy, the church’s credibility has suffered,’’ he said.

Bishop Malone said he had been preoccupied early on in his tenure with guarding the church’s reputation.

‘‘There was a time I was trying to protect the church from a bad reputation, and trying to reach out to victims,’’ Bishop Malone said.

‘‘I came to a decision that you can’t have a foot in both camps.’’

Bishop Malone later became one of the most outspoken critics of sexual abuse cover-ups within the church, troubling some colleagues but winning praise from victims.

The 71-year-old acknowledged he was emotionally drained, disillusioned and ready for retirement for the past year, well before the official pension age for Catholic bishops of 75.

Bishop Malone will not cease to be a pastor in retirement, and said he would like spend time in outback Australia."

***State of the diocese: a mess

Some more media reports of note of 6 April, mostly focusing on the diocese as the apparent epicentre of the abuse scandal in Australia:
And for some golden oldies to remind us all of the other problems in the diocese, you might want to consult the (now defunct) Cooees from the Cloister file on 'the Diocese of the Big Drain' aka 'the miasma' - I remembered the proposed joint confirmation with the Anglicans that had to be cancelled on Vatican instructions, but I'd truly forgotten some of the other truly colourful moments of the not that distant past...


Anonymous said...

Excuse me. Did you write not good news?!!

What colossal arrogance! Even before the Bishop elect has had one day in pastoral ministry - you make that sort of judgement in public.

Here is a priest duly appointed by the Holy Father as a Bishop and you encourage dissent....disgusting.

You have no credibility whatsoever - self styled 'orthodox' ideologues like yourself are guilty of the type of 'cafetria catholicism ' you ceaselessly decry about others.

Shame on your petty arrogance
Concerned obesrever of dissenting reactionary Catholic bloggers

Kate said...

Dear 'Concerned obesrever [sic] of dissenting reactionary Catholic bloggers' ,

We are allowed to have opinions and views about whether something that happens is a positive or negative! That hardly constitutes dissent.

I'm not advocating anyone disobey the bishop-elect or disrespect him (quite the contrary as my post makes clear). In fact I'm asking for prayers for him and the diocese.

If you had read my post I asked the question about was this a bishop would be sympathetic to the traditionalist community who have struggled in the past. The answer seems to be a resounding no.

If you want to find examples of arrogant disrespect in relation to priests and bishops, I suggest you take yourself back over to acatholica. Meanwhile spare me the hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me again. I am not a member of that ideological mirror of your positions - 'catholica'. Your comments are that of a bully. You talk of the defending the Magisterium only when it suits you obviously.

You and the Catholica lot are both the same.

I detest such ideologues. How dare you arrogantly accuse others of hypocrisy. What a cheek you have.

I repeat your comments about the bishop just appointed by the Holy Father are a disgrace. Stop being coy about it. You are fermenting dissent and your lame excuse about wishing to pray for the Bishop is pious phoney joke.

Catholic Voice said...

What father would hand his child a stone when he asked for bread?

Kate said...

'Concerned obesrever [sic] of dissenting reactionary Catholic bloggers' (please do feel free to give yourself an alternative name),

You know normally I would have just rejected your first ad hominem attack on me. But perhaps this is the time to get some of these issues on the table.

1. You could perhaps have contributed a comment saying actually this is a good news appointment and given a reason.

Instead you chose to launch an avalanche of abuse. I'm glad to hear that you are not one of the acatholicas. But is not at all obvious on what basis you distinguish yourself from them based on your comments so far.

2. Let's get real. Despite the new speak cult of niceness currently prevalent, expressing an opinion, even one that might hurt the feelings of someone else, is not in itself 'bullying'. Certainly not a mere comment such as 'not good news'!

I have no power at all other than the power to persuade through my ability to convince my (ever growing number of) readers that what I am saying is plausible or right.

No, bullying tactics are the kind of things that Michael Mullins, for example, does over at Cath Blog - misrepresenting what others say, and refusing to correct it; distorted 'summations' of others ideas that purport to be objective but in fact give short shift; and engaging in sarcastic put downs.

3. Explain to me just how expressing an opinion on a pastoral decision of this kind is 'dissent' or encouragement of dissent?

Dissent means to disagree with doctrine. This is not that!

Nor is it disobedience - of the kind advocated by some of our priests in relation to the missal for example and given uncritical airtime on supposedly mainstream sites.

It is rather perfectly legitimate comment on whether or not a particular appointment is helpful for certain agendas or not!

4. I deeply resent your attack on my call to prayer. I'm genuine about this. My prayer list of priests on this blog includes a few names that have given harder line traddies pause in the past, but I've always taken the view that anyone who needs our prayers should get them. Because I actually do believe in the power of prayer (have a read of my recent post on this subject in relation to a cath news blog).

All bishops need our prayers, and a new one going into a problem diocese like this one more than most. And he may yet surprise us, either as a result of our prayers or because the few people who have emailed me so far have got him wrong.

5. I highly recommend to you a read of a recent article by Fr Michael Casey of Sdyeny called 'The puzzle of intolerant tolerance':

It helps explains the oddities of the the mentality you appear to share.

Anonymous said...

I know the bishop-elect well-enough, he Baptised me. The bloke is a champ, that's all it comes down too. Also he has a genuine concern for the values of the gospel and social justice, which is awesome.

He's just a top bloke.

Kate said...

OK so that's one more vote in the 'he's a liberal' column.

Because as far as I can see, 'Gospel values' seems for some reason to be code for ignoring what the Gospel actually says interpreted in the light of tradition in favour of what we'd like it to say. While social justice seems these days to be code for ignoring the big justice issues (like the right to life and to a spiritual life and culture) in favour of far less important issues.

More, we don't need our bishops to necessarily be 'good blokes' (nice if they are, but not the most important criterion). What we actually need is bishops who will stand up, teach and act - to be sings of contradiction to the world, even though people may not like them as a result.

The numbers are adding up.

And please, give a name (any name will do). In future I will reject comments without any.

PM said...

Mind you, his character appraisal of Abbot rings pretty true with what we have seen in the 324 years since.

Stella Oriens said...

Kate, have been following your posts for a while now and just wanted to thank you for the balance you strike in your writing. It is wonderful to come here and see that not all trads are of the Rorate Caeli stripe.

It is simply depressing that people are incapable of reading an opinion with which they disagree and refrain from screeching in protest. Are they truly so devoid of intellectual fibre, or is it merely moral fibre they lack?

I lean to the latter. The bishop-elect has had years in pastoral ministry as a priest. He has made thousands of decisions and remarks over the year on which any number of people may base their remarks. How dare these anonymous cowards come here with their feigned offence and bully you with unfounded claims of arrogance and dissent, I do not know. Dreadful behaviour, a shame on themselves and their parents (God bless them) who raised them.

For myself, I had never heard of the chap until this appointment. I hope and pray that he is a fine chap, but I'd be a fool to ignore the other chaps who have had dealings with him in the past (not to mention what is already well known about the seminary at the time of his formation, the dreadful state of his new see, and dare I say the calibre of characters flying to his defence).

God bless you Kate, and thank you again.

Anonymous said...

how is he on the life issues - good yard stick

Kate said...

Thank you Stella, appreciated.

And PM, yep, have to say it certainly did!

Tony said...

I stumbled across your blog by accident and can't believe the sentiments that I see expressed here. Basically I sense the suggestion that Bishop-Elect William Wright will only be a 'good shepherd' if he gives a particular group of his flock everything they want.

Presumably, once those demands have been met, he will then only continue to be a 'good shepherd' if he starts to deprive other groups within his diocese of what THEY want.

I have known Bill for most of his 58 years - we went to school together from the earliest primary school days. Our respective parents had known each other and worked together for a decade or more before we were born.

Bill comes from a fine Catholic background, was imbued with a wonderful sense of social justice and an enquiring mind by the Jesuits and he has dedicated his life to the service of others. Bill was born for pastoral care - it is part of his genetic make up!

He is a fine, fine man, is not accompanied by much of the baggage that accompanies others into these positions and, quite frankly, the Catholics of the Newcastle Diocese should thank the Lord for the Church having sent them a man of such calibre.

My sincerest wish for him is that he is allowed to show himself for who he is and what he stands for in an increasingly secular world and that he can be allowed to provide a clear moral compass for the people of the region.

The Diocese needs that 'light on the Hill' to guide it out of its more recent troubled past and Bill will only be able to direct all his energies to that healing process if he is not the subject of constant sniping from the sidelines, which seems to have become 'the Catholic Way' of late!!!

I think it would do everyone good to remember that Bill, like all of us, is supposed to reflect God's image and likeness, not that of the snipers!!

Pax vobiscum, Bill!!

Kate said...


I appreciate that you are happy at the appointment of your friend, and I’m sure Fr Wright has many positive qualities.

But it is a strange definition of ‘pastoral’ that fails to respond to the legitimate desires of Catholics to partake of the spiritual riches of the Church. The Church’s rules on this subject say that pastors ‘should’ respond positively to requests for the Latin Mass, including for regular Sunday masses.

No one has suggested that this should be at the expense of anyone else – indeed the group suggested that if Fr Wright didn’t want to say it himself, they would find a priest who was willing to come out and say it for the group. What possible justification is there for denying such a reasonable request?

The nature of his response naturally raises some fairly important questions about his pastoral approach.

Nor is it ‘sniping on the sidelines’ to raise legitimate concerns: Canon Law not only permits it, but makes it a duty in certain circumstances.