ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE - THE BATHERSBY YEARS 2001 CYCLONIC DEPRESSION PART III
In the second half of 2001 an Apostolic Visitation of the Seminary was held. No public announcement of the results was made. Two Priest lecturers and three Nun lecturers subsequently left the Seminary, including the now notorious Elain Wainwright who was next heard of in New Zealand.
On 16th November the Courier Mail carried as story concerning the hiring of the WOMENSPACE property to a pro-abortion group . This took place while Sister Scully carried out her "investigation"into the Centre.Catholic pro-Life groups cried out for the Archbishop to act. The Paper was unable to contact His Grace who was on a flight to Rome.
On the same day Auxiliary Bishop John Gerry issued a Press Release.The document contained no news except to confirm that Archbishop Bathersby opposed witchcraft and abortion and is in "complete accord with the teachings of the Universal Catholic Church".He mentioned that in Rome His Grace would attend the International Anglican-Catholic Working Group and later the launch of the Pope,s proclamation The Church in Oceania a Post-Synodal exhortation.
Any action on current concerns would have to await the Scully report.
The next day, the Saturday Courier Mail of 17th November, 2001 ran a full page under the headline| " CROSS Purposes"surmounted with a large picture of His Grace celebrating Holy Mass.
The article leads off with a letter to the Editor from His Grace presented in a box:
Before my departure for Rome, for Anglican - Catholic ecumenical meetings, it would be remiss of me not to comment on the Courier Mail article "Living Off Moral Capital"( 14/11/01) by Tony Dixon(http://vexilla-regis.blogspot.com/2011/05/archdiocese-of-brisbane-bathersby-years_27.html).
Religious sisters and brothers do make mistakes, as we all do in trying to follow Christ. At the same time, the importance, past and present, of their contribution to the Australian Church in education, health, pastoral care and many other areas can never be overestimated. It is a debt the Church will never fully repay.
As well as their generosity in these important areas, their loyalty to the Church has led them to embrace the changes of the Second Vatican Council with much greater energy and enthusiasm than many of their critics, who remain uncomfortably silent whenever the Pope talks of ecumenism and social justice.
Sadly some of those same critics are not without fault. They attend selected Church services, not to worship, but to take notes for dispatch to Rome. Surely such critical attendance is a desecration of worship, an insult to the real presence of Christ, and serious matter for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.The principle "the end justifies the means", has found a comfortable niche among some who describe themselves as "true believers".
Surely there is ample room in the Church for a generosity of approach in trying to bring people to Christ, and those people who set themselves up in the Church as exclusive guardians of orthodoxy should carefully study Christ's relationship with people of His own time who claimed the same privilege
Most Rev John Bathersby
Archbishop of Brisbane."
Under this appeared another letter:
Jennifer Dudley and Tony Dixon have reminded me to re-read Donna Steichen's book UNGODLY RAGE : THE HIDDEN FACE OF CATHOLIC FEMINISM(1991)
Steichen detailed the kind of radical feminism that was on the march in America among Catholic religious women during the 1980's.
She was especially convincing when it came to showing the gnostic and New Age influences behind the Catholic feminist movement at that time.
Subsequent events in the U.S.A/ have proven that Church resources devoted to such adventures would have been better applied elsewhere.
The Courier Mail has done a service in bringing this issue to the attention of Catholics, especially parents in Queensland.
Chevron Island, Gold Coast
( Mr. Quirk was then an Associate Professor of Law at BOND UNIVERSITY.
On the left of the page was an article by Rev Father Paul Stenhouse M.S.C.Editor of ANNALS AUSTRALIA and leading Middle East scholar. Entitled "New Age or Stone Age?", the article reviews the muddled emergences of "witchcraft"in the last couple of centuries and concludes:
"With Derek Erskine ( and with apologies to Saints Matthew and Luke) , I suggest that there must surely be a limit to what can be tolerated, even in the long-suffering Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese; and those who offer a snake instead of bread, or a scorpion instead of an egg, risk, like the hunter in Nairobi, getting tossed out of the club."
The main body of the page was occupied by an article written by a Wayne Smith.Early in the piece he refers to Sister Patricia Scully's "investigation...of WOMENSPACE ". He characterises those who oppose the Nuns'activities in Witchcraft and Lesbianism and support for an Abortion group, as "A small determined knot of Catholic" hardliners" He opines that : "" WOMENSPACE has become the battleground on which Queensland's conservative , pre- Vatican II Catholics have chosen to engage the forces of New Age Catholicism in what shapes as a bitter fight to the finish.
It was only two years ago that they last went to war, though over an issue only Catholics could fathom The Third Rite of Reconciliation.On that occasion the far right prevailed, after planting spies in congregations and reporting to Rome those Priests and Bishops who disobeyed the directive to stop giving parishoners general absolution for their sins."
Recovering some semblance of professional approach, rather than the above propagandist style, he recounts interviews with the Nuns involved, but notes that in promoting their operations they do not reveal that they are Nuns unless asked.
He finished by quoting the Chancellor of the Archdiocese Rev Father Jim Spence ( now Retired) who said "I think we all need to have a look at ourselves and what we're doing from time to time, and to look at it in the context of the broader community. But I wouldn't see any need for disciplinary action."
REACTION TO ARCHBISHOP'S ATTACK
I received numerous phone calls and letter of sympathy and support for the injustice of what many readers believed was a personal and grossly unfair and unjust attack on me by His Grace in the Letter to the Editor of the Courier Mail. To be seen to be attacked and slurred by one's Archbishop in the daily Press is not something a faithful Catholic can readily adjust to. So I chose to write to the Editor of The Courier Mail as follows on the 19th November, 2001.
The letter from His Grace Archbishop Bathersby published in the Courier Mail on Saturday 17 November ( p 32) has, I am told, led some people to believe that the criticisms contained therein ( "uncomfortable silence", "desecration", insult to the Blessed Sacrament, "need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation ( i.e. Penance) , "the end justifies the means", "true believers", etc.) referred to me because my 14/11/01 article was mentioned at the beginning of His Grace's letter.
This should not be so, because :
1. to write in such a devious way would be morally cowardly - unthinkable for a Catholic Archbishop held to be a good and honourable man, who would write openly as I have done;
2. any Bishop has the moral and Canon Law duty to directly correct any member of his flock when they are in grave error
( such as the scandalous litany of error His Grace has listed.) I have received no such correction from His Grace - nor has anyone I know. So his letter should not be referring to me;
3. most of all His Grace knows it is not true of me, as the attached correspondence between myself and His Grace and the Cathedral Administrator proves. You will note His Grace's comment ( letter 9 March, 2000), "I appreciate your deep love of the Mass, which is mine also";
4.for eleven years I have regularly attended the 8.00am weekday Mass and the 10.00 am Sunday Mass in the Cathedral and so could hardly be described as one who "attend(s) selected Church services"" or hardly a spy, unless what the CIA and the KGB call a very long term "sleeper"
I did have occasion to write to His Grace on 2 October, 2001 about quotations from Sacred Scripture being altered systematically in the Cathedral - directly contradictory to Church discipline - to suit gender political purposes.
Noting the logic of His Grace , conveyed to me by the Cathedral Administrator, that His Grace had said he would stop earlier moves in this direction only "because too many people had been making trouble for him in Rome",I sent a copy of my letter to the appropriate authorities in Rome openly informing His Grace that I had done so and why.
This was the very first letter I have ever written to the Holy See. So there would be no justification in that event for His Grace writing about me in such a way on that account.
It would be odd, if confronted with perversion of Sacred Scripture one could not seek redress from the anointed Protector of God's Word without being accused of spying and worse;
far from" uncomfortable silence"I have twice written in the newspaper seeking faithful adherence to the Second Vatican Council.
Therefore, in the same forum His Grace has used, I ask him to confirm publicly that he was not referring to me - for the sake of his honour and to stop the damage to my reputation in the community and in business being caused by His Grace's letter.
For, if it were otherwise, I am advised that it would be necessary for me to take civil and Canonical action to achieve redress and co-operation. I would do so with vigour.I cannot countenance an attack on the integrity and practice of my devotion to Our Lord, for that goes to the very heart of my being.
If His Grace had an individual in mind, what a spectacle it would represent - the Shepherd savaging a member of his flock who seeks to right an undeniable wrong, whilst in the same letter His Grace so kindly speaks of Sisters who "make mistakes in trying to follow Christ"-witchcraft? - lesbianism? - "trying to follow Christ"!
Perhaps His Grace's letter was edited, creating the strange leaps in logic it displays.
They had no interest in detailed reasoning, and preferred to rest with an effective slur from a person in lofty office.
The paper had moved on , and did not publish the letter.
The affair was not over-
to be continued.