Well, probably more of the latter, actually. But I will say this, in his commentary on the sermon, Brian has been big-hearted enough to acknowledge that it was indeed “inspiring and thought-provoking homily”. He has also found out the link to the full video of the Installation Mass.
Brian is quite correct to see the homily as a statement of the pastoral mission of the Church today – at least in Australia (it might be hyperbole to suggest, as does, that it “has much broader application to the universal Church” – does to make the error that his experience of the Church is paradigmatic of the experience of Catholics everywhere).
He correctly and graciously acknowledges +Anthony’s virtues: he is “intellectually astute and, from all reports, well-read in the latest thinking in theology as well as in current affairs and contemporary culture”. The latter is, I believe, very important. Our bishops need to know something of the musical, “literary”, online and (I add because I think this is very important) cinematic influences on contemporary culture, and too often cut themselves off from these important sources of understanding (I saw Avatar last night, and believe that it is too easy to dismiss the mythology behind it as “anti-Christian” – more about that in a separate post).
He is also a “a youngish bishop” even though “he’s even a good fifteen years older than the median population age for his diocese”. You really can’t expect much more, Brian. As he said to the Aboriginal elders when they welcomed him, he too is “an elder”, an “elder of the Catholic Church” no less. Once “presbyter” meant the same thing, and perhaps today, in our glorification of youth, we forget that age was once seen as a notion correlated to the notion of wisdom.
But of course, he must remind us that the new bishop carries “some ‘baggage’”. Actually, he doesn’t really. Not to speak of. But Brian has to find some. So trust him to pick up the one time his judgement may have lapsed under pressure (even then, his comments in this circumstance were directed at the media itself). As for his other “baggage”, the worst that Brian can think of is that
“Young Anthony also comes with a legacy of being a John Paul II bishop. He’s been overly identified with the agendas of JPII, his successor Benedict, and their self-appointed mouthpiece in Australia, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell.
These are only negatives because Brian sees them as negatives. Others, including your correspondent, would see this as a veritable strength.
The bulk of the rest of the article is directed at Pope Benedict’s championing of the faith of those whom he “has labelled the “simple people” and the “little people””. Be it understood, that Brian takes this to mean the Pope and his minions wish to confirm “the “little people” [in] their superstitions and magic beliefs about Jesus—the Saviour”, and that Brian is not such a “little” or “simple” person. He is, rather, one of the
vast masses in the Western world do not need to be “protected from the intellectuals” (to again borrow Benedict’s words). They are well educated themselves and they need to be reasoned with in intelligent, adult ways.
He then goes on dismiss in his usual colourful language the following anti-intellectual notions:
It is simply bullshit to believe that by reaching out to what Benedict has labelled the “simple people” and the “little people” that the re-evangelisation of Catholicism is going to be brought about. It is simply bullshit to suggest that the vast majority of people who have left have left because they have been sucked out of the Church by secularism, consumerism and the allures of affluence. Benedict’s “little people” are not the same “little people” Jesus Christ speaks about.
Who are they, then, we wonder? Not Brian, apparently. Brian dismisses not only the diagnosis of the physician, but the “program” by which the physician intends to restore the health of the patient.
I fully agree with Brian that
Being Catholic, or Christian, is a deadly serious adult game of learning how to make intelligent moral decisions when the parameters of life are often a long way from black or white. It’s about demonstrating our loyalty to our Loving Creator — “the will of our Father in heaven” as Jesus himself labels it
but he believes that what we – and, by implication, +Anthony and the bishops – are involved are
immature kindergarten games we play in this realm of existence trying to prove what ‘good little girls and boys’ we are for some kindergarten Ma’am of our imagination — or the Holy Father.
Well, the “kindergarten Ma’am” is our Holy Mother, the Church, and the Holy Father is the Vicar of Christ, so some of us judge that being “good little girls and boys” for them isn’t quite as “immature” as Brian would have us believe.
There is, if I may say so, something almost “gnostic” about Brian’s division of the Church into the “enlightened” and the “simple”. He has knowledge, we don’t. He has surpassed our “kindergarten” “superstitions and magic beliefs about Jesus—the Saviour”. He is the adult, and we are the children. He has “the light of the new knowledge our Loving Creator is constantly raining down on human civilisation through new insights obtained through the sciences and other disciplines of human enquiry, including Biblical scholarship and theology itself” – and we don’t.
Sorry, Brian, blame it on my protestant Sunday School training, but I will stick with “the old, old story” and continue to tell it to all – children and adults alike – who (before God) are always “the little ones” for whom Christ died.