BY MICHAEL MULLINS
Responses to the news that Parramatta Diocese priest Father Kevin Lee has been married for more than a year include judgment and empathy.
Australia Incognita writes that “compounding the scandal is the fact, that, as a reader has alerted me, he has placed a poll on whether priests should be allowed to marry on his parish website!”
Bernard Toutounji at The Punch agrees with Incognita but shows some understanding of how Lee arrived at his predicament.
Some struggle to use alcohol moderately, others struggle with lust, others struggle with anger ... The scandal is never in our struggle and the scandal is not even when we fall. The scandal is when we portray our vices as virtues, try to justify our erroneous judgement and then sell that judgement to others as a truth to be believed.
Similarly, Country Priest
can’t imagine Fr Lee “set out” to do what he did. I can well imagine he got to where he got by a series of small steps which slowly embroiled him deeper and deeper into a double life. We’re all vulnerable to that.
Country Priest’s conclusion about Lee is actually drawn from his being ensnared on a common trap for young priests, which is to sometime unwittingly break the seal of confessing by using confessed sins as illustrations for homilies and blogs.
becoming a confessor has restricted my freedom to blog about confession... I heard confessions one evening, and then offered a weekday mass the following morning ... After mass, a queue formed to receive the personal blessing of the newly ordained priest ... “You heard my confession last night Father. Remember?” ... I didn’t as it happens — until that moment. And then I realised with horror that the homily I had preached at mass was very similar to the “homiletto” I delivered in the confessional the night before.
In a blog titled “Staying in the Church”, Father James Martin SJ writes on the thorns rather than the pitfalls.
The day is late, we are exhausted, the fruit seems scarce, and the sun is beating down on us, seemingly without mercy ... There can be tough times in the church for all of us—from the pope to the people in the pews. But those aren’t the times to leave. Those are precisely the time when the church needs you the most
CathBlog’s David Timbs writes at v2catholic.com on the Church’s treatment of those of its members whom it perceives as wayward, in the context of the New Evangelisation.
Ingrained paternalism, clericalism and oligarchic control which was synonymous with the Roman Curia up to John XXII ... has retreated into an aggressive reactiveness towards outsiders and punitive action against its own ... The Vatican and other levels of Church leadership are inviting all Catholics to become more actively engaged in the communication of the faith to outsiders, the Church has virtually stopped communicating with its own ... In September, 2011, Nelson Mandela commented insightfully, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children”.
Declan Kelly blogs at the Irish Association of Catholic Priests on a peculiarly Irish legend associated with a priest named Father John Dermody.
On one occasion, having been summoned by a displeased Bishop John Healy to give an account of himself, Dermody reportedly grew so irate that he created from thin air a hive of angry, swarming wasps which chased the bishop and his terror-stricken aides from the room. Such stories are, of course, the stuff of nonsense. ... I also find it troubling that clerical trappings most identified with John Dermody`s era are making a vigorous comeback, particularly the cappa magna.
There are a number of comments on the Church and social media, arising out of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Communicating the Word conference held in Sydney last week.
Australia Incognita takes CathNews publisher and CathBlogger Christine Hogan to task, first quoting Hogan:
”Read the blogs! Sometimes it is extremely difficult to read the spin put on even the most anodyne blogs by people with a ferociously held and determinedly expressed agendas from the deep fringes of the Church’s extreme wings." In my view, what makes one's views fringe or extreme is not how many people in any particular time and place happen to agree with you, but where you stand in relation to the timeless teaching of the Magisterium.
Father Chris Ryan at Seeing Swans at Night provides a caution for bloggers with a quote from Thomas Merton.
I am clearly an advocate of the Church’s presence in the new(-ish) world of social media ... At the same time, we cannot afford to be naive ... I’m reminded of a comment by Thomas Merton, who suggested that watching television was the antithesis of contemplation. The gaze that the television produces is the polar opposite of the contemplative gaze. What would Merton have made of Facebook? Facebook isn’t a substitute for embodied relationship ... The link between contemplation and genuine community is critical, and being online for hours on end militates against both ... recognising that these avenues are subordinate to the Gospel and not the other way round.
Campion College’s Dr Matthew Tan makes a similar point when he speculates about whether there there could ever be “virtual” sacraments, in one of the series of videos from the conference, embedded at the Catholic Media Blog.
Finally Holy Irritant blogs on the “enthronement” of Archbishop Mark Coleridge, which is due to take place in Brisbane this week.
Well here in sunny Brisvegas many (not all) of the Catholic population are preparing for one of those religious spectaculars, the enthronement of a new Archbishop. The last show was in 1989 with John Alexis Bathersby. These ceremonies are a cross between the Melbourne Cup and the Grand Final with better dress codes and lots more music. According to the web site of the Archdiocese of Brisbane our new man on the chair, Mark Coleridge will be "installed" rather then enthroned.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.