Friday, 13 September 2013

Forty Days for Life: verbotten in Adelaide Archdiocese!**

Sydney Lent 40 Days for Life 2013, which was launched by patron Bishop Porteous
The Adelaide Archdiocese under Archbishop Philip Wilson, former President of the Australian Bishops Conference, is a strange, ultra-liberal place.

A place, apparently, where parishes are not even allowed to publicise pro-life activities such as the upcoming 40 Days for Life campaign, lest anyone be offended at being told that abortion is murder.

Death of a diocese

Adelaide is one of those dioceses where Catholicism looks like being snuffed out sooner rather than later.

The number of priests continues to fall catastrophically (in 1990 there were nominally a hundred diocesan priests; in 2000, 91; by 2012 it was down to 74), and there are few vocations.

The proportion of Catholics was down substantially in the last census - most of them moving to the no religion group.

Some of the blame for the catastrophic state of decay there can perhaps be sheeted home to Archbishop Wilson's ultra-liberal immediate predecessor.  But the decline has continued, and if anything accelerated since Archbishop Wilson was appointed in 2000.

This is after all, the Archdiocese that had the infamous Msgr David Cappo as Vicar General for several years, even while wheeling and dealing as a pseudo-politician.

Where its leadership continues to be under a shadow due to the its current Archbishop facing to possible charges relating to the cover up of child abuse in the Hunter.

It is a place where the Church's ancient liturgical Creed, that of Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, is (surely illicitly) prohibited at Mass because, according to the diocese's website, the officially promulgated new translation fails to use 'inclusive language'.

And now, a layperson has informed me, it is a place where priests are prohibited even from publicising the 40 Days for Life campaign!

40 Days for Life: too uncomfortably confronting for some?

The 40 days for life campaign is, you would have thought, something all of our bishops would be able to get behind.  Based around prayer, fasting and a peaceful vigil at an abortion mill, it has spread around the world and proved highly effective.

And indeed, some of our bishops have given it great support.  In Sydney for example, the Lenten campaign this year was launched by Bishop Porteous, its patron there, and in Brisbane, The Catholic Leader amongst others gave it a good push.

It is the kind of event at which you'd hope that priests and bishops could just turn up to lend their moral support, as Pope Francis did a few months back.

But in Adelaide, Archbishop Wilson has now directed that priests not publicise the upcoming campaign (starting on September 25).  An email from the Vicar General "asks that you do not publicise in our church bulletins the material you may receive from time to time from Forty Days for Life or other similar organisations..."

Vicar General Fr Phillip Marshall can't even bring himself to actually use the word abortion in the explanatory note for this instruction, instead using all sorts of euphemisms and talking about how (instead of fighting abortion head on?) they are doing good things in supporting "those who have died unborn, those who have experienced the loss of unborn children, and the families and communities affected by that loss."

Rejecting the role of the laity!

The stated rationale for not supporting the campaign?  Apparently only the bishops are allowed to speak on these issues, and the laity's role is just to pay, pray and obey!

The note suggests that:

"The Archbishop, in his Pastoral Letters and other communications speaks for the whole church in expressing our care", and "In these ways the Archdiocese speaks with a united voice under the leadership of Archbishop Wilson and our message and structures of accountability are clear.  This is not always so among other organisations..."

Really?  Frankly I always find it bizarre that, despite all of the teachings of Vatican II on the role of the laity, some of our most supposedly 'liberal' bishops are so often the most autocratic in style.

The reality is that the current code of canon law (CL 215& 216) recognises the right of the laity to organise and take apostolic action without any need for official approval or control.

And what is it, precisely, about the message of 40 Days for Life that could possibly be at odds with the Archdiocesan line on such a clear cut issue as abortion?

Is it that 40 Days actually talks about God and prayer in its messaging, and is clearly closely aligned with Catholic views, rather than being ostentatiously 'ecumenical', like the trendoid Australian Religious Response to Climate Change that the very same email asks priests to promote?

Or is it just that even peaceful witness to a pro-life agenda is too 'confronting' for Archbishop Wilson?

Perhaps there really is a genuine issue with this organisation (and apparently every other pro-life organisation in Adelaide).  If so, I'd love to hear just what the problem is.

The scandal that is this diocese needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.

**And this story has been picked up by The Vortex, in one of Mr Voris' presentations.  Thanks for his kind plug for the blog - do enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Such decay could be turned around if the present Archbishop of Adelaide were replaced as soon as possible by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP.

This is something to pray for.

jeff said...

angry email sent to diocese

A Canberra Observer said...

Perhaps Arbp Wilson will receive both temporal and supernatural punishment.

So utterly pathetic. It was once hoped that he would be one of the orthodox guys but obviously not. And he was the president of the ACBC. Den of vipers.

Kate Edwards said...

Wintersturme - While I'm certain in favour of some regime change here, I think Bishop Fisher should be given the chance to follow through on his reform of Parramatta diocese rather than shuffled around. It takes around 10 years to turn around a diocese (given the lag to start getting vocations through the system etc), and the constant shuffling of the better ones through dioceses is not a good thing in my view!

Martin S. said...

I'm originally from Adelaide, concur that criticism of this ultra-liberal and dying diocese can never be exaggerated. World-wide it must be one of the worst.

Archbishop Wilson is a deeply flawed man who did not take this advice

The Adelaide College of Divinity the main teaching institution of the diocese has teachers dubiously faithful to Catholic teaching. Fr Michael Trainor, the main teacher, sends out dozens of people every semester back into parishes schooled in the kind of biblical scholarship CS Lewis bitterly criticises here: But Fr Trainor piles up many worldly awards, he doesn't believe in Satan and disputes most miracles but at face value at least 'swallows the camel of the Resurrection'.

A very cruel Archdiocese for non liberal 'progressive' Eureka Street type Catholics.

St. Francis Xavier pray for us.

Joseph said...

the feminisation of the Church continues.

Kate Edwards said...

I can't quite see what feminisation has to do with it!

And frankly to ascribe this kind of behaviour as typical of the female sex is a gross insult.

Personally I'm with Laura on this argument:

Antonia Romanesca said...

" It is a place where the Church's ancient liturgical Creed, that of Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, is (surely illicitly) prohibited at Mass because according to the diocese's website, the officially promulgated new translation fails to use 'inclusive language'. "

++ Wilson can get away with that?!! I know that we are not in Italy, however....Adelaide is an archdiocese! We noticed that the very second the furore erupted in our diocese over the "inappropriate, indiscreet and hurtful" new translation of the Mass, very much stirred by our local clerical monarchs, then Bang, the Nicene Creed disappeared at Mass. Some suggested that congregants are now so old they fall asleep by the end of the Nicene but I suspect the explanation contained in your piece is far more likely to be the fact.

Tony said...

And frankly to ascribe this kind of behaviour as typical of the female sex is a gross insult.

You've release these hounds of rumour and calumny, Kate. Why would anyone else feel constrained to vent their spleen?

You assert a 'catastrophic' decline in priests but fail to note that:
1) In 2003 the number of priests in Adelaide was 103, an historic high.
2) The significant dip in priests after about 2004 is similar to other dios (eg Sydney and Melbourne).
3) According to Catholic Hierarchy the number of priests increased by 2 in 2012. Nothing to throw a party for, but nothing like a catastrophic decline either.

The population of Catholics was just under 1.5M when +Wilson came to Adelaide. It is now around 1.4M after going down as far as 1.25M. No 'catastrophe' there!

Finally there is no 'prohibition' of the Nicene Creed, in fact the journal you cited (The Southern Cross) has done a series of feature articles in recent issues on the NC.

These are verifiable facts, Kate, not 'some layperson informed' me speculations.

Kate Edwards said...

Tony - I'm away from my computer for the week so can't go into detail on all your points, but some quick highlights for now.

First, the Southern Cross article I linked to clearly states that Adelaide diocese priests have been directed to use the Apostles Creed rather than the Nicene.

Secondly, 102 priests was not a historic high - that occurred back in 1980. But the real story is much worse. First the proportion of Catholics to priest has risen from 1:1028 in 1980 to more than double that, 1:2026 in 2012. Secondly, these numbers include retired and inactive priests, and the proportion of these has risen and will continue to given the demographic of priests in Adelaide as elsewhere.

The difference to Melbourne from Pell on and Sydney ditto is that those dioceses have had a significant number of seminarians thus improving the age profile.

Tony said...

Your assertion: 'Forty Days for Life: verbotten in Adelaide Archdiocese!'
Clearly 'Forty Days for Life' is not 'verbotten'. You give no reference to this assertion which may give it context, you just pick out a quote that fits the narrative. Even with that selection 'verbotten' is clearly an exaggeration as the organisation lists Adelaide on its own website.

Your assertion: 'Death of a Diocese'
The population of catholics as shown in Catholic Hierarchy doesn't support the hypothesis of a 'dying diocese' any more than any other diocese. You clearly imply, along with some of the commentary, that the dioceses 'decline' is linked to its alleged liberalism, yet the population profile of the dio has remained predominantly stable since the early 80s. In fact between 2006 and 2012 the numbers increase by 6500. Again, nothing to throw a party for, but clearly not a decline of the magnitude implied.

Your assertion: 'The number of priests continues to fall catastrophically ...'
Between 1959 and 2004 the number of diocesan priests has been between 90 and 100. In other words, remarkably stable including throughout time of +Faulkner and the beginning of +Wilson. The figures for 2006 and 2012 are 72 and 74. That dip clearly speaks of demography rather than the influence of any bishop. Or perhaps you have evidence that these 20+ priests have left because of +Wilson's 'liberalism'?

Your assertion: 'The proportion of Catholics was down substantially in the last census ...'
Catholic Hierarchy has the proportion of Catholics hovering around 20% since the 80s. The 'substantial' decline from 2006 to 2012 is 21.3% to 19.9%. If that's 'substantial' then the increase of diocesan priests from 72 to 74 in that same period is also 'substantial'.

Your assertion: '... leadership continues to be under a shadow due to the its current Archbishop facing to possible charges ...'.
Your basis for this? A link to a Lateline story that makes no hint or suggestion that +Wilson faces charges. I don't presume to know how +Wilson will fare when all the investigations conclude but, at least in some quarters, he continues to enjoy the presumption of innocence and has cooperated with police. Not speaking to Lateline about a very sensitive subject is perfectly reasonable. The 'shadow' of the abuse crisis hangs over the whole church.

Your assertion: '... Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed ... is prohibited ...'
In your reply to me you change 'is prohibited' to what the actualy article says, ie, 'have been directed to use'. Nothing has been 'prohibited' in fact the NC is celebrated in the same paper.

Your assertions about +Wilson's (and the dios) attitude to abortion are so vague and unsubstantiated that the adage 'that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence' applies.

All in all, your assertions and implications are not supported by facts, certainly not in terms of the catastrophising language of you and some of your respondents.

Kate Edwards said...

Tony - The article was about the fact that the Adelaide Archdiocese has forbidden priests to promote 40 days for life in parish bulletins or at mass. A headline is inevitably half the story.

On demographics, I suggest you look at the absolute numbers rather than percentages.

As for AB Wilson, I provided only one link but there are many - do your research. In he hasn't co-operated with the police. In fact he has exercised his right to silence, and at the Ntl Inquiry hearings his evidence was heard in camera in order not to prejudice any subsequent court cases. A brief is reportedly with the DPP, as the link notes.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"The population of Catholics was just under 1.5M when +Wilson came to Adelaide. It is now around 1.4M after going down as far as 1.25M. No 'catastrophe' there! "

Tony, you've cited the total population of Adelaide.

Not that Catholic hierarchy population stats could give an accurate picture here, it's clear that figures have been reused for multiple years and that population estimates are not done consistently from year to year (e.g. 2001 has an extra 200,000 people, which then disappear, and then the population is exactly stagnant for 3-4 years?!?)

Some numbers that might help are the number of priests and Catholics per priest (which Incognita has mentions) as well as the number of parishes.

Anonymous #2

Anonymous said...

while looking at the Archdiocese website I looked at the Cathedral website in Adelaide. Seems like a nice place, bit plain. I also noticed not only do they use the Creed that wont "offend" women, they have taken it to a higher level. According to the Website and weekly bulletins, which can be seen online, they have,listen, WOMEN Master of Ceremonies, Yes WOMEN, people! Plus if you look at some of the images, these women are wearing fascias! What is going on!! Thank God I don't live in that Diocese!

Anonymous said...
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Dan Miller said...

Send a letter the the Holy Father, Pope Francis in Rome. He needs to know this is happening.

Anonymous said...
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Baseballmomof8 said...

Lord have Mercy on the soul of AB Wilson. Convict him Father, of the reality of Hell. Give him a heart dog genuine Love for the souls YOU have entrusted to HIS care. Holy Spirit... Blow on the dying embers in this man's soul, and bring them to full flame. Amen.

Leonie said...

"the feminisation of the Church continues."

This is hardly an example of the feminisation of the Church. When one is arguing, it is better to stick to issues at hand and not lump all problems or issues under one, single banner.

Amfortas said...

I hope Tasmania benefits from a more vigorous defence of the Faith under Porteus.

Tasmanian Catholics are in the firing line for a year in Jail and $65000 fines for praying for aborted babies and their mothers in a church that is within the 'prohibited zone' around an abortion clinic. The relevant legislation is in Parliament here at the moment.

Anonymous said...


I have recently been reading Walking with God by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins.

As I read this about Archbishop Wilson, the many leaders and rulers of Israel who sold out to the enemy comes to mind.

Another analogy that comes to mind are termites - those creatures that silently but surely destroy the house.

As the saying goes, with friends (or members of a family) like these, who needs enemies?

FaithfulCitizen said...

I just sent the following in an email to the archdiocese. Let's see if I get any response.
Hello. My name is , and I am from Orlando, Florida in the United States.

I recently heard about your recent memo about "40 Days for Life". As someone who has participated in 40 Days events in years past (and encouraged others in my parish to do so as well), I was curious about whether something has been found in the organization that is contrary to the faith.

I read the memo completely, but I did not see any details about why materials from 40 Days should not be put in parish bulletins or promoted at all. All I saw was the line "our message and structures of accountability are clear. This is not always so among other organisations..."

Did they fail to do proper accounting of revenues and expenses? Did they engage in some sort of illegal action that is also considered inherently immoral according to Catholic teaching?

I want to know what you found objectionable about "40 Days", so I can warn my fellow parishioners, the same way I have warned them about "Planned Parenthood", "March of Dimes", "UNICEF", and other organizations with shady moral and accounting practices.

Thank you, and God bless...

Anonymous said...

It might be remembered by some that Archbishop Wilson got behind a nihilistic scheme entitled all too naively "the leap ahead" (reminiscent of Mao's "great leap forward"?). This scheme translated openly into an agenda where the ageing demographic of Priests in the Adelaide archdiocese was taken as a fait accompli no effort was assumed to reverse the situation merely to prepare the diocese for it's inevitable burial. Under the management of Mons Cappo and his entourage this scheme was aggressively implemented, resulting in the amalgamation of parishes, the spreading of priests as errand-boys between churches, restricting the pastoral duties of many priests and handing the over pastoral care of Parishes to Laity who were given VIP status and salaries whilst church properties were sold off. From the little I know about Wilson's involvement with the case involving child abuse, my opinion is that it's beside the point in reference to his glaringly obvious neglect of the Adelaide Archdiocese. It's pretty clear he's a smart man, he can talk his way out of a paper bag. Close to the time of Mary McKillop's canonisation Archbishop Wilson Apologised on behalf of the diocese to the Josephites for the Late Archbishop Shiel's excommunication of the congregations founder, now Sainted Mary of the Cross. I would hazard a guess that this apology is misplaced. I rather think Archbishop Wilson will be apologizing to Bishop Shiel, A man who was loved by the people of the Adelaide diocese such that a window in a chapel in the Adelaide hills is dedicated to him, a man who made many efforts to build Adelaide into a flourishing diocese. Saint Mary of the Cross and Bishop Shiel, pray for us now.

Anonymous said...

Hello From KY USA. Heard about NOT allowing 40 days for Life bulletin announcment.
Anyone have mailing or email address for Archbishop Wilson & Crew? I will be praying for a Holy Spirit move there to convert them or remove them. I would like to send a note of protest to their deplorable actions that go against defending the little, innocent ones, agianst God and the faith. Pretty yukky stuff. Sometimes a kind but firm note of displeasure does wonders. I betthe rest of readers around the world would feel the same adn reply in kind.
Peace & Blessings From Ky,
Joseph West

Anonymous said...
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Kate Edwards said...

Folks -Plese remember to give yourself an identifier- a number of comments got through because their lack of attribtions weren't clear as I wasn't accessing them from my pc, being away from home. I'll be happy to republish them with a name.

Greg K said...

Whilst 40 Days for Life in Melbourne has not been 'banned', it has received very little support spiritually, materially and publicly from Archbishop Hart and many of the other bishops in Victoria for much as the same reasons given by the archdiocese of Adelaide. Just ask Fons Janssen 0406 322 694, one of the organizers here in the diocese of Sale about the trouble he and his team is having and have had for a number of years now. Some of the bishops who were written to did not even have the courtesy to reply. Greg K

Anonymous said...

que vergonha, a arquidiocese critica o movimento pró-vida HUMANA e permite abertamente o movimento ecológico... então, a ecologia vale mais que ser humano?

What a shame. There is support to ecologists in the dioceses but not to the pro HUMAN live supporters... So, any creature is worth more than God's children???

Cristiane - Brazil
(after watching Church Militant TV)