We Are Church Intl.

Fundamental Rights

A People not a Pyramid - Part 3

PDF  [ Part 1 and 2 ]   [ Part 3 and 4 ]

A People not a Pyramid

Christianity: Leadership in a Society of Equals. Part III.  

Tipping points

“The agenda for the promised 2020 synod of the Australian Church cannot be determined and managed only by those who cling to what they regard as the non-negotiable aspects of Church hierarchy and governance, when those aspects are shown to have contributed to past failures in transparency and accountability. Those failures then compounded rates of child abuse which were shocking, tragic and indefensible. The Royal Commission has less than a year to run. Once it reports, the Australian Church will need to change radically, or become a despised, diminishing sect.” – Frank  Brennan SJ (16/02/2017) 1

 In August 2016, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane announced that the Catholic Bishops of Australia had voted to hold a National Plenary Council in 2020. In the course of a 2016 interview published in The Catholic Leader the Archbishop said that the two decisive factors in the Bishops’ thinking were the continued decline in participation rates and the anticipated negative impact on the Catholic Church in Australia as a result of the Royal Commission’s Catholic Wrap Up and final Report late 2017.

Archbishop Coleridge expressed his own personal views about the historical and social reasons for the Catholic Church’s rapid decline in retention rates among its own people and its loss of standing in secular society:

 “I think we have to accept the fact that “Christendom is over – by which I mean mass, civic Christianity. It’s over.” Archbishop Coleridge then went on, “We are not the power in the land which we once were.” He then issued a very important challenge, one that cannot and must not be ignored, “Now, how do we deal with that fact? …… “We need to face the facts, and in the light of the facts, which aren’t always friendly, we have to make big decisions about the future.”  2  (Bold added)

The Archbishop’s admission “We are not the power in the land we once were” is a powerful acknowledgment that not only is civic Christendom over, but the Catholic institutional arrogance and presumption that accompanied it were finished as well.

He is right of course. The privileged status the Catholic Church has enjoyed in Australian society up until 2016-17, together with the public recognition, deference and entitlements given it, have now become degraded.  The Church’s high moral profile has been compromised, perhaps terminally, as a result of the dismal failure of its leadership.

Wishing it would go away

The Royal Commission hearings during the February 2017 Catholic Wrap Up have provided valuable context for and historical perspective on what bishops were thinking and saying years before the Royal Commission began its work.  For example in his Pentecost 2010 Pastoral Letter to the Catholic people of Canberra Goulburn, Archbishop Coleridge wrote in a defensive and ultimately dismissive tone:

“At the moment, the Catholic Church and the bishops in particular are being pounded mightily and dismissed as lacking all credibility or worse. This is hardly surprising, and it can be humiliating. But it is not the end of the world; nor is it the end of the Church. Paradoxically, the Catholic Church has often been at her best when down for the count. History shows that new and unexpected surges of Gospel energy have come not infrequently in the wake of devastation. My hope is that we may now be moving slowly and painfully towards a moment of that kind. That is surely the promise of Easter, which is what sustains me and many others through this troubled time. My deepest and most heartfelt prayer is that the same promise of life out of death may sustain the survivors of sexual abuse whose faces I have come to see and whose voices I have come to hear.” 3 

The Archbishop’s message is even more instructive when read along with the later statement of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference when the Gillard government announced that Royal Commission would be held. The Bishops Conference statement also projects  a certain air of regret and contrition for the failings of ‘the Church’ but the overall tone of defensiveness and opacity is identifiable. These came to be  standard features of the ACBC’s  narrative over the next three years:

“We deeply regret the suffering and trauma endured by children who have been in the Church’s care, and the effect on their families. Mistakes were made and we apologise to victims and their families for these failures.
Much of the public discussion is about how the Church dealt with cases 20 or more years ago. Critics talk as though earlier failures are still prevalent. Major procedural changes in dealing with these matters have been implemented by the Church since then.
It is unjust and inappropriate to suggest crimes are being – or have been – committed, without producing evidence; without asking those accused for their responses before making generalised slurs.
It is unacceptable, because it is untrue, to claim that the Catholic Church does not have proper procedures, and to claim that Catholic authorities refuse to cooperate with the police.
As we have welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with the Inquiries announced in Victoria and NSW, and to address issues that have been raised – both justified and unjustified – we are also ready to cooperate with this Royal Commission. We look forward to consultations with the Government on the terms of reference.” 4

Now there are other pressing concerns that the bishops must consider after their confronting experience of being investigated, questioned, cross examined and lectured by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In 2010 Archbishop Coleridge expressed the view of his fellow bishops that, although the immediate outlook seemed rather grim, in the perspective of Church history, it would pass and people would inevitably ‘experience some closure and move forward.’ It will never be as simple as that.

The bishops and other Church leaders are now held responsible by the Catholic people for having placed the dignity, honour and reputation of clerics and religious ahead of the human dignity and value of innocent children. The memory of this scandal will never be erased from the Catholic memory. Expressions of remorse from the hierarchy will remain hollow unless they are followed by a comprehensive systemic reform of the Church’s administrative institutions and structures. Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, has finally concluded that the Church must be seen to be accountable: “….Changes must be made, and if they are not made willingly they will most certainly be forced upon us.” 5

Who has the moral compass?

A disturbing number of bishops participating in the Royal Commission’s Catholic Wrap Up regressed into a dependency mode by constantly fawning upon the Royal Commission and expressing how eagerly they anticipate guidance that they will receive when the final report is released. Archbishop Coleridge added that the Commission’s recommendations in the final report will be central to the development of the agenda for the 2020 Plenary Council. 

Many Australian Catholics would probably find the bishops’ sudden desire for advice and direction rather odd, even disingenuous. Justice McClellan and his associates questioned them a number of times about why it has taken a Royal Commission over four years to force them to accept their responsibilities as citizens of a law abiding liberal democratic society.  Commissioners at times were clearly dumbfounded that many bishops and leaders of religious institutes appeared to have an underdeveloped moral sense and lack of understanding that they had actually presided over a culture of secrecy and deception that enabled the clerical sexual abuse of children to continue over decades and on a scale that challenges the imagination. On the appearance of the five Metropolian bishops, Eric Hodgens picks up on the irony, “They were reduced to being supplicants before the RC being questioned by a female, secular counsel-assisting.” 6

 It is ironic too that their sisters and brothers in the Faith have been calling on the Bishops to join them at a common table for an amicable conversation about the state of the Church and its future. In that forum they would have heard truth, fact and reality calmly, openly and without the embarrassment of a being served a summons.

As the Royal Commission entered into its final ‘Catholic’ stage, some remarkably frank admissions were made by Bishops. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth branded the role of Catholic Church leaders in the clerical CSA scandal a “catastrophic failure” while Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher declared it ‘criminal negligence.’ Later he went on to say,

“ I think that part of why members of the Church and others looking in from the outside are so disenchanted, disillusioned, by our performance in this area is we should have been a model in this area. We have such high ideals with respect to children, with respect to family life, with respect to the powerless and innocent, and look what happened.

What I would like to recover is the community's confidence that we're there inspiring high ideals in this area rather than failing them and being hypocrites.” 7

“We were a law unto ourselves,” confessed Archbishop Coleridge on two occasions. In September 2014, the Archbishop  told the priests of the Auckland diocese in New Zealand, “We thought the law didn’t apply to us.” 8  This attitude was illustrated on numerous occasions during the RC’s  questioning of bishops and other religious leaders. Commissioners expressed particular bemusement and amazement at two retired bishops over their struggle to explain adequately what citizenship means and implies, what is the distinction between a moral failure and a criminal act, particularly in relation to child sexual abuse by priests and religious.

 In 2011, Peter Wilkinson wrote presciently and specifically about some of these values on which the Royal Commission has made frequent mention over the past year or so:

“It seems to me that the Australian church as church hasn’t really yet come to grips with Australian culture. There are many good qualities in the Australian culture absent from the church.
1)      Democratic process. We expect this in government and public corporations, but it is largely absent from the church.
2)      Gender equality and equality of opportunity. That discrimination exists in our church. Gender equality and equality of opportunity are not there.
3)      Freedom of expression
4)      Transparency and accountability from those who govern us and are in authority. They and their roles are are not do not exhaust the identity and mission of all the People of God
5)      Cultural and religious tolerance. These I would say are in our church, and highly commendable. But so many of our best values are not present in the church, and I think Catholics in this country are not entirely at home because those values are not present and they are not incorporated in the way the Catholic Church conducts its business.” 9

In his 2017 Lenten Letter, Bishop Vincent Long has affirmed that the Royal Commission has come to represent a “shameful indictment not simply on the perpetrators and their enablers but the Church’s collective and systemic betrayal of the Gospel.”10  Catholicism’s presumed moral status in a nominally Christian society is now devalued and its bishops stand to receive a harsh collective assessment when the Royal Commission’s final report is published at the end of 2017. “We are not the power in the land which we once were.” At the end of the final day of the Wrap Up Archbishop Fisher, echoing Archbishop Coleridge, remarked  ‘we don’t have the same authority as we had before.” No wonder. It should be no surprise at all that the old political patronages and cultural deference that the Catholic Church is Australia formerly enjoyed have long disappeared. 

On another note, an inhouse one, it was noticeable that during the lead up to and during the Commission hearings  some bishops repeatedly used of the collective “We” or “the Catholic Church” indiscriminately. This was not helpful nor was it fair because the terms actually referred rather narrowly to the bishops and religious superiors themselves and not to the entire Catholic population. The same lack of nuance was evident when apologies were made ‘on behalf of the Catholic Church.’ There seemed to be little understanding among Catholic leaders of the difference between their acknowledged culpability and apologies and the totally unjust implication of ‘collective guilt’ of all Australian Catholics.

Other examples of muddled thinking were the gross understatements about the seriousness of clerical CSA when several bishops and leaders of religious institutes could not identify the difference between a moral foible, moral lapse or failure and a criminal act.  The widespread outrage among Catholic and others is understandable when some of these senior Church officials described clerical child sexual criminal abuse as mere ‘mischief or misbehaviour.’

Frank Brennan provides his own succinct ‘wrap up’:

 “They apologised not just for the sins of those church personnel who violated children, the most vulnerable members of our church community. They apologised and acknowledged also the gross failures of their predecessors and other church authorities who failed to act resolutely and compassionately in relation to the perpetrators and the victims, labelling their responses as ‘scandalously insufficient,’ ‘hopelessly inadequate,’ as ‘a kind of criminal negligence’, ‘just totally wrong’. Some ‘were just like rabbits in the headlights. They just had no idea what to do, and their performance was appalling.’” 11

After a drawn out saga of obfuscation, avoidance and some examples of astonishing ignorance about the fact that paedophilia was not just a moral lapse, ‘a bit of mischief,’  but a crime, it was not surprising that the Commissioners began to lose patience.  During this last year in particular, the Royal Commission has bluntly challenged the Australian bishops and leaders of Catholic religious institutes to understand and to assume their responsibilities as honest citizens of a free democratic society. This became a constant theme and it was not new. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny had delivered a similar judgment on and summons to the leadership of the Catholic Church in his country. In a July 20, 2011 speech in the Dáil, the Irish Parliament, Kenny said:

'the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism - and the narcissism - that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day' and he found the behaviour of Catholic Church leadership at the very top badly wanting when assessed against the standards of decency and transparent accountability which prevail in secular society, 'This is not Rome. This is the Republic of Ireland 2011, a republic of laws.'

Kenny added that the church's leaders had repeatedly sought to defend their institutions at the expense of children and to 'parse and analyse' every revelation of church cover-up of crimes 'with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.' 12

After the devastation wrought on the victims of child sexual abuse, their families and on the entire Catholic Community in this country, it is a matter of paramount importance for the bishops and other religious leaders to demonstrate clearly that they are committed to the systemic reform of their professional governance and Church culture. A top priority will be for them to address the widespread perception that Catholic leaders place a higher value on the Code of Canon and civil  law and the protection of its sectional interests than on the moral virtues which flow from the Gospel. The tension between the Church’s internal Law and and its Moral theology must be resolved clearly and speedily in favour of Virtue. 13

The Commission has already indicated that it will be making recommendations to the Australian Bishops about what they and  the Vatican will be asked to do to honour their legal responsibilities towards the people of Australia. Furthermore, it would not have been lost on many that the Royal Commission has indicated that Cardinal Pell’s evidence of central importance to the serial priest paedophile Gerald Ridsdale case could be found to be ‘implausible’. 14  Whatever the present state of the relationship between Cardinal Pell and the Australian Bishops, in the eyes of the public, including most Catholics, they are all tarred with the same brush.

The Catholics of this country expect the bishops to explain what it was/in the culture of leadership that led them to behave like ‘a law unto themselves,’ to be guilty of ‘criminal negligence’ and carry the guilt of a ‘catastrophic failure’ of leadership. In the eyes of the secular opinion makers this is a matter of guilty by association. The bishops need to convince the Faithful that they understand the extent of the damage that has been done by compromising the integrity of the Gospel and the good reputation of Australian Catholics.  Cardinal O’Malley stated very bluntly at a March 23 conference on the protection of minors in Rome, the counter-sign behaviour of Church leaders has compromised the Gospel and undermined the mission of the People of God:

“Let there be no doubts, no other topic is more important for the life of the church. If the church is not committed to child protection, our efforts at evangelization will be to no effect; we will lose the trust of our people and gain the opprobrium of the world.” 15
Who would want to join us and why?

The numbers tell the story. Since the early 1950s, the participation rate of Catholics in Australia has gradually fallen. The last two nation wide parish head counts indicate that the decline in the numbers of Catholics involved in regular (monthly) faith practice has become dramatic.

The drift is happening practically everywhere in the developed world. It is not just secularism which is to blame; it is a failure of the Church leaders to hold people, to attract the disaffiliated back and outsiders to join. The testimony of Paul’s letters and the historical narrative of shows clearly that the Jesus Movement grew and flourished because the community offered to outsiders a clear and attractive alternative moral code and social identity. Above all, Christianity totally eclipsed the old way of life with its determinisms by race, class and gender in a society of unequals:

“For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3: 27-28)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation; the old has passed away and the new has come.” (2 Cor 5: 17)

When the Church’s  structures of social relationships fail to reflect this foundational reality, it would be quite reasonable to ask the question about why anyone in their right mind would want to become or remain a member. There is definitely an enormous problem here for the evangelical mission of the Catholic Church and it must be faced honestly, openly and fearlessly. It is the biggest of all the elephants in the Church’s living room. If ever the Magisterium of the Catholic Church undertakes an intellectually rigourous re-examination the historical theology of Sacraments then it would be led to at a fresh understanding the faith that the only Sacrament which marks out or ‘radically configures’ a person to Christ is Baptism and no other.

Two other very likely causes for the ‘drift factor’ in recent decades were Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of artificial birthcontrol in his 1968 encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani pressured Pope Paul to publish the letter, advising him that if he did not do so, then the Papal teaching office would forfeit its moral authority. Ironically, this is what happened in any case. Catholics responded with mass dissent with some suggesting that around +90% of adult Catholics in developed countries rejected the document as both authentic teaching and as binding on their consciences.

 Following Paul’s death in 1978, and after  the thirty day papacy of John Paul I, the Catholic Church entered into a period of nearly forty years of stagnation, authoritarianism, spiritual nostalgia, doctrinal regression, ritual restorationism  and Curial corruption under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The levels of alienation deepened and the rates of disaffiliation increased dramatically during those decades,  particularly among Catholic women. Paul Collins has provided a clear, balanced and well documented account of those two papacies and their influence on the direction they took the Church. 16

There are two notable facts in the recent history of the Catholic Church in Australia, both  surprising and both inviting reflection. Firstly, the Australian Catholic population has become not only educated to the highest levels, it is probably one of the most theologically literate in the world. Hundreds of non ordained women and men have graduated from Australian theology colleges – mostly Catholics ones – and many of them have proceeded to the highest levels in academia. For the most part, the hierarchy has bungled it through lack of insight and will. They do not and continue not have a clue about what to do with cohorts of highly competent and eduacted laity.

 The late Robert McClory illustrates a typical authoritarian games played in the past by the Catholic hierarchy. When faced with a thinking laity, the hierarchy (the Teaching Church) often resorted to abstruse circular arguments to force the Faithful into submission. That tactic doesn’t work anymore, however, other forms of infantilisation are employed in their place:

"If modernity stressed reason, the church stressed faith. If modernity stressed human progress, the church stressed original sin. If modernity stressed freedom of thought, the church stressed the binding nature of its dogmas. If modernity stressed democracy, the church stressed authority.” 17

Secondly, and perhaps for the first time in Church history, more women than men are disengaging from faith practice in the Catholic community. Our leaders need to study that issue very closely indeed.  They will most likely find the reasons for the exodus quite simple: women are walking out because they believe that they are not being acknowledged,  taken seriously and are certainly not being heard despite official affirmations that all Catholics enjoy these as rights and not by the concession:

“The Church recognizes everyone's right to suitable freedom of expression and thought. This includes the right of everyone to be heard in a spirit of dialogue which preserves a legitimate diversity within the Church.” # 44.18

The quality of its community life and the persuasive power of its message have always been and remains Christianity’s most effective means of exercising its evangelical mission and influencing the world around it. At least in the developed countries, the Catholic Church has continued to lose its power to attract,  evangelise and exert moral influence. Added to that, most people leaving active participation are probably not so much walking away from Christ or decent human values as  they are distancing themselves from an institutional structure which they see as not faithfully reflecting Christ or his Gospel.

Emeritus Bishop Pat Power has for years been promoting a specific vision and shape of Christian Community which would be magnetically attractive to mass of spiritually ‘homeless’ people:

“In 1996, I gave a talk in which I expressed my hopes for the Catholic Church. They were that it would be
§  a more human Church
§  a humbler Church
§  a less clerical Church
§  a more inclusive Church (and therefore more truly catholic)
§  a more open Church
§  a Church which finds unity in diversity
§  a Church which discovers its whole tradition
§  a Church which truly reflects the person and values of Jesus.

I have restated these hopes many times since, including at the Oceania Synod of Bishops in Rome in 1998 in the presence of Pope John Paul II, the future Pope Benedict XVI and my brother bishops. Surely such aspirations are even more pressing today.” 19

The reform needed by the Church today will involve much more than just “tinkering around the edges.” Issues such as the authoritarian nature of the Church, compulsory celibacy for the clergy,
the participation of women in the Church, the teaching on sexuality in all aspects cannot be brushed aside. Listening must be a key component of reform and at times that will involve listening to unpalatable truths. It needs to be recognised that all wisdom does not reside exclusively in the present all male leadership of the Church and that the voices of the faithful must be heard.” 20

When rank, privilege and titles are set aside, when conversation replaces a speech fest, then the dynamics of communication changes. Bishops and other Church leaders find themselves in a situation where they are forced to speak to their own experience and not to their conceptual framework and the dynamics of communication and the semantics of relationships shift dramatically. A conference becomes a gathering of a society of equals. Cardinal Schönborn considered  Pope Francis was inspired when he directed that speeches at the 2015 be limited to four minutes and that the Bishops and other official delegates spend most of the time working in small language-based discussion groups:

“Things are not changed at the endpoint but along the way,” he reflected.
“At the Extraordinary Synod Assembly in 2014, for example, what the bishops had to say was still incredibly abstract. But a year later they were suddenly talking about reality,” the cardinal pointed out.“Bishops spoke about their own family situation. And, lo and behold, they no longer simply theorized abstractly,” he said.’ 21

Another dimension of the drift, an internal one, is the apparently large number of priests who are declining the offer of episcopal ordination. 22  If this is the case, have the incumbents ever asked one another the question, “Why are so few willing to become one of us” and drawing the necessary conclusions? Maybe, if large numbers of laity and local clergy had a determinative role in the selection of bishops, more men would respond positively and quite probably the episcopal ranks they would be joining would be of a very different composition in the first place.

End Notes

  1. Frank Brennan, “The Catholic  wrap-up at the Royal Commission,” Eureka Street,  12 February, 2017. (Accessed 14/02/2017 https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=50620#.WKIVJ_l97cs).
  2. Mark Bowling, “Brisbane Archbishop calls for first synod for entire Catholic Church in Australia since 1937” The Catholic Leader, August 17, 2016. (Accessed 14/02/2017 http://catholicleader.com.au/news/brisbane-archbishop-calls-for-first-synod-for-entire-catholic-church-in-australia-since-1937). On the last day of the Catholic Wrap Up, ++Coleridge told the Commission that the matters raised at the hearings plus the principal recommendations in the final report would largely shape the agenda of the Plenary in 2020. (http://catholicleader.com.au/news/brisbane-archbishop-calls-for-first-synod-for-entire-catholic-church-in-australia-since-1937).
  3. “Seeing the faces, hearing the voices,” Belonging and Community, (Journal of the Diocese of Woolongong) Tuesday, 25 May, 2010. (Accessed 13/03/2017 http://www.dow.org.au/news/news-and-media/item/seeing-the-faces-hearing-the-voices?category_id=4).
  4. ACBC Press Release, November 12,  2012 (Accessed 08/03/2017 http://mediablog.catholic.org.au/statement-on-royal-commission-bishops%E2%80%99-response/).
  5.  “Where to from here?” Pearls and Irritations, 15 March, 2017 (Accessed 15/03/2017    http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9759).
  6. “The Catholic Dilemma,” Pearls and Irritations, 8 March, 2017 (Accessed 08/03/2017 http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9702). 
  7. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Cases of Child Sexual Abuse, (Transcript 24.02.2017. 259).
  8. Rowena Orejana, “Australian archbishop links clericalism to child abuse,” nzcatholic.org.nz  (Accessed 09/03/2017 https://www.nzcatholic.org.nz/2014/09/10/australian-archbishop-links-clericalism-to-abuse/).
  9. “CATHOLIC PARISH MINISTRY IN AUSTRALIA: FACING DISASTER,”  Catholics for Ministry website (Accessed 12/03/2017 http://www.catholica.com.au/editorial/CatholicParishMinistry.pdf ). Aspects of this article were discussed along with other matters on ABC Radio, April 2011.
  10.  “Bishop Long’s Lenten Message 2017,” Catholic Outlook, 24 February, 2017  (Accessed 26/03/2017  http://catholicoutlook.org/bishop-vincent-longs-lenten-message-2017/)
  11. “The Catholic Wrap Up at the Royal Commission,” republished in Pearls and Irritations, 28 February, 2017 (Accessed 80/03/2017 http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9607).
  12. “Taoiseach's speech on Cloyne motion,” The Irish Times, Wed, Jul. 20, 2011 (Accessed 23/02/2017 http://www.irishtimes.com/news/taoiseach-s-speech-on-cloyne-motion-1.880466).
  13.  “Moral theology sets the parameters for lawmaking. Legal norms in the Christian community cannot, and must not, operate independently within some kind of self-defined order (ordo iuridicus). They must be part of the theological life of the community, which means they must sustain and promote a life of faith, hope, and love. In the ecclesia, the gathering of the faithful, the theological virtues give sense and purpose to every single norm. This is to imply a lot: moral theology has a critical role to play vis-à- vis canon law. It can set the parameters for the lawmakers, can tell them how far to go or not to go. It can give guidance to those who are implementing and interpreting the law: it can guide them in keeping the law in the service of the theological virtues.” - Ladislas Orsy, “Moral Theology and Canon Law: The Quest for a sound relationship,” Theological Studies 50 (1989) 159 (Electronic copy accessed 17/03/2017 http://cdn.theologicalstudies.net/50/50.1/50.1.7.pdf).
  14. Victoria Craw and Charles Miranda, “Cardinal Pell meets with Pope Francis ahead of second day of testimony at Royal Commission,”  News Corp Australian network, March 1, 2016 (Accessed 28/03/2017 http://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/cardinal-pell-said-he-could-not-remember-any-child-abuse-reported-to-him/news-story/89fd6d38f61e03e08f0450a72c0c8873).
  15. Gerard O’Connell, “Cardinal O’Malley: Evangelization will have ‘no effect’ if the Church doesn’t protect children,” America Magazine March 23, 2017 (Accessed 27/03/2017 http://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/03/23/cardinal-omalley-evangelization-will-have-no-effect-if-church-doesnt-protect).
  16. God’s New Man: The Election of Benedict XVI and the Legacy of John Paul II (London: Continuum, 2005); John Cassidy, “The Disastrous influence of Benedict XVI,”  The New Yorker, February 12, 2013 (Accessed 27/03/2017 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/the-disastrous-influence-of-pope-benedict-xvi).
  17. Robert McClory, As It Was in the Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church. (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2007) 118; 
  18. The Performance of Justice, 45; and see, Tony Flannery, “The CDF is doing great harm to the Church,” tonyflannery.com, March 21, 2017 (Accessed 23/04/2017 http://www.tonyflannery.com/the-cdf-is-doing-great-harm-to-the-church/)


  1. Pat Power, “The Royal Commission and the need for reform,” Pearls and Irritations, 1 March 2017 (Accessed 18/03/17 http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9620); “The Royal Commission and the need for reform,”  Pearls and Irritations,  (Accessed 01/03/2017 http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9620); see +Pat’s fellow Canberra-Goulburn priest, Peter Day, “The Smell of Sheep,” Catholics for Renewal: Documents (Accessed 17/02/2017 http://www.catholicsforrenewal.org/Church%20power.pdf/).

Brendan Hoban (Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland, goes even further, drawing attention to the enormous damage that is inflicted on the Faithful as a result of the Church hierarchical culture of patronising, condescending and infantilising authority:   " ... As Gabriel Daly points out, perhaps the worst effect of enforced conformity is that it weakens conscience. Accordingly, it diminishes an individual's capacity for personal conviction and moral growth. In simple terms, if we insist in treating people like children, how can we expect them to respond as adults?" - "Thinking for Ourselves," Association of Catholic Priests, 28 November, 2016. (Accessed 21/01/2017 http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2016/11/thinking-for-ourselves).