Paragraph 907 of the Catechism behoves me to give my opinion. I telephoned the Townsville Bishop's Office to enquire the availability of Mass at Bowen for the weekend. I was informed that the priest was in hospital with a jellyfish sting, and that the nun Pastoral Leader would be "saying the Mass"! Readers can draw their own conclusions from this.
My experience of the Queensland bishops over the shortage of priests here has given me the strong impression of an element of deceit fuelled possibly by misguided nationalism, xenophobia and fear of orthodoxy. A bishop will claim he has enough priests, yet talks are given in his diocese on running a parish without a priest. The Catholic high schools in Cairns rarely, if ever, see a priest because of short supply.
Individuals know that they could obtain at least six good priests in less than six months, from European sources, to service the schools and parishes in Cairns, for example.
The impression is that the shortage of Australian priests is being used to provide a platform for male and, especially, female, laity and religious with presbyterial ambitions. In the meantime Catholic students are deprived of priests, left to the wolves.
Sweeping changes are required to counteract the secularism about which Archbishop Bathersby often comments. Surely there is nothing better for today's Catholic students in today's world than Jesus Himself in the sacrifice of the Mass.
TIM COYLE (DR)