Archbishop Faulkner, in replying to Michael Gilchrist's article in the June AD2000, has a vision for the Adelaide Archdiocese through the help of Basic Ecclesial Communities. He also quoted extensively from Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Missio.
The reality is, however, very different from the Archbishop's vision. The main support for the BECs has come from the radical feminist lobby, which is very strong in our Archdiocese. Proof of their influence has been:
* Changes made to the liturgy through the use of "inclusive" language;
* The use of the Dominican Convent at Cabra for "Sophia" meetings by radical feminists;
* The lobby by feminists and their supporters in the Cathedral grounds at the time of the Chrism Mass.
Because of the influence of radical feminists in Adelaide - whose aim is to produce a priestless Church - the BECs are well supported. The feminists wish to have a system of lay presiders in place of the present hierarchical structure. The BECs, as Fr Marins sees them, have little need for authority and structure in a church community, as opposed to the orthodox and more authority-centred Church.
Again, the Adelaide Archdiocese has very few seminarians. This has made it easier for the feminist lobby to capitalise on the priest shortage by providing an alternative arrangement - BECs.
It was interesting to note that Peter Finlayson, in his AD2000 article on the Marins workshop in Ballarat, stated that "the program was disappointing - defeatism masquerading as realism - bordering on the mischievous."
This also seems to sum up the position of BECs in Adelaide. Let us not ignore the orthodox and traditional parish, the tried and the true, for the BEC priestless parish, which is the goal of the radical feminists.
T. R. WHITE (DR)
[Editor: We have received numerous letters on BECs, offering different viewpoints. Space does not allow the publication of all of them this month.]