Brian Bibby

The October issue included a summary of Sydney's Pastoral Plan. At last, I thought, something is being done to rectify the problems in our schools and Catholic life in general.

Then I read on further and found to my chagrin, three articles that show just why the Pastoral Plan will not work. Hence the irony.

The three offending articles were:

1. The review of the book by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson calling for a radical overhaul of the Catholic faith.

2. The article by Michael Apthorp concerning abuses of the liturgy in a Brisbane church.

3. The formation of a new organisation 'Protect Our Children' to tackle the doctrinal and moral abuse of Catholic children.

These articles are just three more in the legions of examples of bishops, priests, the heads of CEOs, liturgy bodies, tertiary institutes and seminaries who live in open defiance of the Pope, the teachings of the Church and the Magisterium - and do so with impunity.

They are also a timely reminder that in Australia these forces have been growing in strength over the past 40 years. In April 2005 journalist Bryan Patterson reported in the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun (3 April) that there was a National Council of Priests (NCP) representing 40 bishops and half of Australia's 1649 priests.

The NCP lobbied the Vatican by letter asking, amongst other things, that the ban on married priests and women priests be lifted and also for a change in the leadership of the Church in Australia to make it more 'collegial'.

For some reason, the 'Official Church' in Australia continues to turn a blind eye to dissidents.

Before Sydney's Pastoral Plan can be implemented successfully, the question of those who oppose it must be addressed.

No reforms can be successful when those who oppose them are significant in their numbers, hold critical positions in the reform process, are united in their opposition, are organised and who are in for the long haul.

My second concern is that because of the ages and numbers of teachers and students currently in the 'pipeline', the reform process will take at least two generations to complete. By that time, some of the leaders pressing for the reforms will no longer be active.

There needs to be plans in place now to cope with this eventuality.

My third concern is that the reform plan is to be implemented in only one diocese, Sydney. Given the potential implementation timeline, what are the prospects for implementing the reform process across Australia?

Forest Hill, Vic

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