Speaking to several friends who were in Rome for the Conference of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, I hear it was a great success. About 80 priests attended, a quarter of whom were from Australia. Despite the fact that the Confraternity had its origins in the United States, it seems that Australian priests have embraced the CCC more enthusiastically than priests of any other nation – I am not sure why this might be so (see the Australian website here). Perhaps it fulfils a need here in a way that it doesn’t elsewhere. Certainly the average age of leadership in the ACCC is much lower than the larger National Council of Priests of Australia. Related to this is perhaps the difference in the aims of the two organisations.
According to its website, the aims of the ACCC are to:
• give glory and honour to the Most Blessed Trinity
• assist the eternal salvation and holiness of members
• foster unity among Catholic priests and deacons with the bishops in loyalty to the Supreme Magisterium
• encourage faithfulness to priestly life and ministry
• assist bishops, priests, and deacons in the fulfilment of their ministry of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling.
The aims of the NCPA (also from their website), on the other hand, are to:
•To promote a spirit of fraternity among the members and other clerics of the Catholic Church in Australia
•To devise ways and means for members and others to better serve the people to whom they are called to minister.
•To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and to promote the spirit of ecumenism and to establish ecumenical links
•To effect a liaison with other national bodies of religious men and women and with national bodies of laity
•To maintain contact with similar associations
•To be a consultative body to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
•About half of all Australian Catholic Clergy – Diocesan and Clerical Religious – are members. Members pay an annual subscription to belong to the NCP.
The aims of both organisations are admirable, but one can see a decided commitment to the Magisterium in the aims of the ACCC which are absent from the aims of the NCPA.
Anyway, back to the Conference. My good friend, Fr Pritchard of St Joseph’s in Chelsea, speaks highly of the talk given by pope’s chief liturgist, Msgr. Guido Marini, on “the Reform of the Reform”. It has not yet appeared on the Internet in full (I hope that it yet might – hint to editors of the CCC website), but it has been reported by CNS here. CNS reports that Marini spoke about the importance of historical continuity in th Liturgy. He said:
“I purposefully use the word continuity, a word very dear to our present Holy Father,” Msgr. Marini said. “He has made it the only authoritative criterion whereby one can correctly interpret the life of the church.”
Msgr. Marini said that an appreciation of continuity would help bring together divergent schools of thought regarding the liturgy.
“The liturgy cannot and must not be an opportunity for conflict between those who find good only in that which came before us, and those who, on the contrary, almost always find wrong in what came before,” he said.
The way forward for any liturgical renewal is “to regard both the present and the past liturgy of the church as one patrimony in continuous development,” he said.
That seems to gel with some discussions on this blog about the nature of the post-Conciliar Catholic Church – and it seems to me that one could apply this thinking to many other aspects of current Church life and teaching than just the liturgy. I fervantly pray for the success of the Confraternity and their aims in this the Catholic dioceses of this country, and that their work might be extended in other Catholic dioceses throughout the world.