ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE - THE BATHERSBY YEARS III - 1996


ARCHBISHOP OF BRISBANE JOHN A. BATHERSBY


Then Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane
Peter Hollingworth



AND BELOW




after being hounded from office as Governor General,
Peter Hollingworth A.O. , O.B.E. as
"Social Justice Advocate"


In its 27-28th April,1996 issue THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN editorialised as follows ( P 18) :
"Radical plans are being developed by Australia's mainstream churches to overcome the financial and staffing problems they now face in the burgeoning new areas of our cities. These appear justified and in keeping with similar financial rationalisations in industry and other corporate areas. But they may become counsels of despair. Among such plans is the joint use of buildings, proposed by the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, and welcomed by the Anglican Archbishop, Peter Hollingworth. Seen as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee on the ecumenical front, Archbishop Bathersby's proposals have aroused uncertainty among some Catholics, fearful of the effects of  accelerated ecumenism.

The core problem is spiritual, not financial. In the Catholic Church it is reflected in a dire shortage of vocations which leaves many parishes without resident priests. So in his rationalisation plans, Archbishop Bathersby proposes that lay administrators would run many parishes. Critics believe that this would undermine Catholic identity and further deplete the number of churchgoers...........For the Catholic Church the decline in Mass attendance is a sign of spiritual malaise. Its causes are complex and reflect a crisis of faith , a deficient leadership and weaknesses in the second Vatican Council reforms."


For a secular publication, this was perceptive indeed, and two full years in advance of the Statement of Conclusions , in which the Holy See and the Australian Bishops also recognised the "crisis of Faith"and leadership problems
.
Later in June of that year, controversy arose over the Archbishop's choice of Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary of Green Bay Diocese ,Wisconsin to lead a Retreat for Clergy. Green Bay Diocese has been plagued by pedophile scandals involving 35 incidents over the last 50 years.The Archbishop , in a letter to the Courier Mail stoutly defended the orthodoxy of Bishop Morneau's Retreat conferences.The issue had first arisen in an article written by the Sydney Anglican Cleric James Murray under the Nom de Plume of "Charles de Foucauld"Bishop Morneau himself was given good space in the Paper for a later reply and, on 30th June, "Charles de Foucauld " himself wrote in the Archdiocesan weekly The Catholic Leader.He defended himself in the matter of an attack on him by Father Bill O'Shea ( see previous post concerning that Priest) and noted that Bishop Morneau was a fellow traveller intellectually with Father Richard McBrien whose work "Catholicism" Father O'Shea defended and claimed it "complements the Catechism" ignoring the fact that it was the subject of a Monitum from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and had been condemned by the U.S.A. Catholic Bishops Conference Committee on Doctrine.

 Under this article in the Catholic Leader there appeared an item written by the Archdiocesan "Director of Communications"Timothy Carter, attacking the Courier Mail.and Rev James Murray. Unfortunately Mr Carter got his "James Murrays" muddled and criticised articles by James Murray appearing in ANNALS AUSTRALIA , erroneously attributing them to Rev James Murray who was writing for the Courier Mail!This fact was highlighted in an apt reply by Tess Livingstone of the Courier Mail in a letter to the Editor of the Catholic Leader which left Mr Carter with "egg all over his face"  .On the same day Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane James Cuskelly M.S.C. wrote a letter to the Editor of the Courier Mail . It will be recalled that in an earlier post we showed that it was Bishop Cuskelly ( great friend of the notorious Rembert Weakland) who had gone to bat for Father Bill O'Shea against the Holy See.Now Bishop Cuskelly bristled at Rev James Murray's criticism of Father O'Shea's views and vigorously defended Bishop Morneau's reliability, carefully avoiding any mention of Father Richard McBrien . Bishop Cuskelly made a point of saying that Murray's sources "are known to us"- which reads badly - as if to convey a threat of reprisals.

In the same month  Archbishop Bathersby launched the Annual Seminary Education Appeal which for the previous year had raised $ 323,400 dollars for the whole of Queensland ( it is a Provincial Seminary). There were 27 Seminarians for the whole State.16 Of them came from Brisbane, 6 from Toowoomba( Bishop Morris had only been in Toowoomba 3 years), 4 from Rockhampton and 1 from Townsville and none from Cairns.

The parlous state of the Archdiocese' relations with the Metropolitan and National press was to prove a great disadvantage as the poisons continued to hatch out and the robust weeds in the garden went to seed at an increasing rate.



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