Archbishop Faulkner explains (July AD2000) that Basic Ecclesial Communities are valid and approved by the present Pope. Quoting Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Archbishop shows that the said communities aim at building and strengthening parishes, with special concern for non-practising Catholics.
Conversely, Peter Finlayson, in the same issue of AD2000 describes his experience of attending a BECs workshop. He suggests that the BEC structure can be used to promote a dissenting form of Catholicism.
We, the ordinary Catholics, have lived in a state of confusion since Vatican II regarding the agenda of various renewal groups, for the same reason that Mr Finlayson states. Parishioners attending in good faith the various communal gatherings at parish or diocesan level are frequently confronted with rejection and ridicule of orthodox Catholicism.
Archbishop Faulkner insists that BECs, if they truly live in unity with the Church, will achieve positive results - which brings us to the core of the issue.
Renewal/evangelisation groups have operated in Australia for upwards of 30 years, with little or no obvious spiritual benefits. Most younger Catholics have abandoned the Faith - the Archbishop states that 80 per cent of baptised Catholics of all ages are now non-practising.
The stark reality is that almost all forms of re-evangelisation have been controlled by dissenting, liberal elements within the Church. Varying degrees of 'newchurch' theology, morality and liturgy are presented in the name of renewal and a supposed response to the call of Vatican II.
The persons concerned in this assault on orthodoxy may be well-intentioned; but they are misguided, as are the Church authorities who allow them to operate.
Jesus told us that "Anyone who loves me will be true to my word" (Jn 14:23) and that word is presented by the Magisterium of His Church.
Therefore, commitment to orthodoxy must precede renewal/ evangelisation, and theoretically worthy structures such as Basic Ecclesial Communities should be freed of any questionable leadership.
M. KENNEDY (MRS)