The following are some of the lecture notes and observations of a student who recently undertook a unit in the Diploma of Religious Education at a Sydney campus of Australian Catholic University.
Lecture, 12 January 2005
Suggested reading: God's Call Girl by Carla Van Raay, a story about the author's life as a nun and then later as a prostitute. The book was said to serve as an example for anyone inspired by the search for truth and self-appreciation.
God the Father is also to be recognised as "God the Mother".
Regarding the Asian Tsumani: "It was not a mini warning. If we were to experience such a thing, it would happen in the Vatican City. I would love to see all those Monsignori floating around".
The Eucharist is essentially a meal shared by an assembly.
A priest's job is to help people become whole selves and grow in maturity, not to get them to attend Mass or go to confession.
Lecture 13 January 2005
Celibacy should be scrapped from the Church - "it isn't realistic".
Women should be encouraged into the priesthood.
The Australian Catholic University was established so that religious education could be "relevant" and "modern".
Australian parents would consider their child's teacher as the person "in-control" of Church teachings more so than priests, bishops and Pope.
Marriage is out of fashion: "It has never survived the Industrial Revolution and won't". The Church should have nothing to do with marriage.
"Eucharist has nothing to do with transubstantiation"; it becomes the Body of Christ because we are taking it and we are the Body of Christ.
"Hail Mary full of grace ": "Is there any reason why an angel can't greet one of us with, 'Hail full of grace'? [no response from students]. No, I can't see why not! We are filled with God's grace".
The tabernacle should be removed so that people became the focal point.
"Jesus used honey bread" and various other things in the Last Supper. It is the Pope who has changed everything that Jesus practised and preached. "Jesus would not survive the Church today".
Lecture 14 January 2005
That "King David had over eight hundred wives" and slept around "gives us hope". Sex is not a sin.
Priests should not bother cleaning the Paten. The crumbs "are not Jesus. He didn't say I am every crumb of bread."
"Yeast and gluten-free" hosts should be acceptable.
"Does it matter what sex a person is if you want to go to confession?" The lecturer described a real scenario where a young student approached his female teacher and explained that he did not think that he had to go to confession and that the priest confesses [forgives] sins at Mass. The teacher did not know how to answer him. Another day after speaking to the lecturer (a priest) she asked the child to retell some of the sins that he had committed and how he had been punished by his parents. That story was to demonstrate how the Sacrament of Penance could be carried out instead of going to a priest.
"We are the Body of Christ" is how the Eucharist becomes the Body of Christ.
Lecture 17 January 2005
The concept of original sin was influenced by St Augustine's "dislike of sex".
Original sin is "not in the Bible".
Catholic schools will not survive. ACU must accommodate and become secular otherwise it will also not survive.
"Eucharist is about now, not 2000 years ago".
"Transubstantiation belongs in the 13th Century".
"The Pope allowed documents to be hidden" regarding sexual misconduct by priests toward children. "Judgement day will be interesting".
The lecturer has "lots of reservations" regarding church counselling pregnant women considering abortion.
Lecture 18 January 2005
"Why aren't people going to confession?" Cardinal Pell said "he doubts the supremacy of conscience - [this] gives us the green light to make up our own values."
People once divorced should be able to remarry in the Church, same as if they are accepted into ministry, becoming priests and nuns.
Regarding the Sacrament of Penance, "I personally like the Third Rite and know people who still use it".
"Are we supposed to go to confession?" asked a student at the end of a discussion on Penance. The entire class seemed uncertain as the lecturer made statements like "Confession is not about telling sins" and "It's about personal growth" counselling.
Overall, a student who completed this theology unit at Australian Catholic University would conclude from the lectures and discussions that he was supposed to believe that:
* The Church's foundations of truth ought to be avoided in the interest of modern "new church" beliefs.
* The views of theologians, lecturers and students are equivalent to those of the Magisterium.
* A liberal, feminist, politically correct, "new church" line of thinking is the way to go for the Church and for educators.
* What the Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church - and even in the Scriptures - does not need to be defended and can be filtered and translated to suit a "new church" way of thinking.
* Church teachings are often unclear and open to debate or personal interpretation.
This kind of teaching is being given to present and future teachers of religion in Catholic schools. Pope John Paul II published Ex Corde Ecclesiae in 1990, calling on bishops' conferences to ensure the orthodoxy of Catholic institutions of higher education and their faculties. Fifteen years on, nothing appears to have been done.