|Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane.........|
Brisbane’s soon to retire (July, 2011) Archbishop John Bathersby is not seen as often in his Cathedral as most Archbishops are seen in their Cathedrals. But this practice is taken to weird lengths on the occasion of the delivery of most of his Pastoral Letters.
This was again the case on Sunday 6th March when the Archbishop’s Lenten Pastoral Letter – after a suitable Guitar lead-in and an announcer’s introduction, came once again over the Cathedral’s PA system read by His Grace. The effect is quite odd .The Ambo is empty, the Cathedra is vacant (perilously located under the impressive organ Pipes and casing which dominate the Sanctuary). Only the disembodied voice wafts through the Cathedral, leaving the congregation no related focus for their attention. Another Guitar passage and it is all over – almost as if it had never been.
There is a better way, but one would have to be there!
Pastoral Letters have not been the greatest strength of Queensland Bishops.There was the 2006 Advent Pastoral of Bishop Morris of Toowoomba - about which, the less said the better- and the later unfortunate effort of Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville which referred to The Blessed Sacrament as a "symbol"(! see our earlier post.) Even the Metropolitan, the above Archbishop Bathersby ( due to retire in July 2011) had an attack of "the Queensland Pastoral Syndrome" in Advent , 2006 which seemed to have been obscured by the brilliance of Bishop Morris' flames of self-destruction.
Born in Stanthorpe in South East Queensland ( the centre of a vast apple, stone fruit and wine making region), Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane will be 75 in July , 2011, when he must submit his resignation to the Holy Father. Ordained Priest in 1961 for Toowoomba Diocese, he became Bishop of Cairns in 1986 and Archbishop of Brisbane on 3 December, 1991.
In his 2006 Pastoral Letter for Advent he committed to published print some of his ideas we had heard in previous sermons or had been relayed to us third- hand.Here is the passage and beneath it , what the Church believes and teaches:
Archbishop Bathersby :
"Yet the title that includes all the others is the deceptively simple title 'Prophet of the Kingdom'. This title places Jesus in a long line of Jewish prophets who addressed the chosen people in the name of God,and often died because of their message. However, Jesus as a prophet was different from the others because he was unique.
He was the prophet par excellence, the Messiah, the long awaited messenger of God who announced the arrival of the Kingdom in Himself.
This conviction of Jesus must have developed during his comparatively short life of 33 years, when through prayer, study and action he came to realise, in a mysterious process we will never be able to understand, that, rather than being merely one of the Prophets he himself was the Messiah, the anointed one of God.
He must have realised that in himself God was not merely calling the chosen people into an ever deeper relationship as God had done with the prophets and patriarchs, but that in relating to Himself people were relating to God.
He must also have realised that relationship with Himself would save the world and change it forever.
No longer would sinfulness prevail as it had done earlier, but rather the love of God would reach out through Him not just to a few privileged people but to all people who would experience in Himself God's love and forgiveness.
It was a reckless, extravagant claim that ultimately cost Jesus his life, nevertheless this extraordinary claim was ultimately vindicated by resurrection."
"MYSTICI CORPORIS" POPE PIUS XII :
"75. Now the only begotten Son of God embraced us in His infinite knowledge and undying love even before the world began. And that He might give a visible and exceedingly beautiful expression to this love, He assumed our nature in hypostatic union : hence - as Maximus of Turin with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks - "in Christ our own flesh loves us "(156)) But the knowledge and love of Our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love. O marvellous condescension of Divine Love for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity! In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself." (Emphasis added.)
If we followed Archbishop Bathersby ( and his Anglican guru Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, England, who he refers to and has brought to Brisbane to teach Catholics about Christ) we would hold that at some time Jesus developed His thinking along these lines :
" Gosh,I think I'm the Messiah!' (whom the Jews of that time expected to be a military and political leader.) Then, " Hey, I reckon all the Jews should come to God through me". Then, " well, golly, I believe I am God."
This marvellous bit of self discovery would logically involve either :
(a) Jesus having become God somewhere in the process, or
(b) having been God incarnate from the instant of His Conception, but not knowing it - God, but He didn't know it!
Since we know that the Church has always taught that Jesus was God Incarnate from the moment of His Conception ( "" and the Word became flesh" ) His Grace was advancing the latter absurd proposition. He should not be surprised that we prefer to stay with Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church.