I refer to a local TV news report of protesters at the Sandhurst Diocese's Catholic Education Conference at Shepparton on 15 March 2007. In that report a spokesman for the Catholic Education Office who was interviewed stated that 'there is absolutely nothing presented which is against the teaching of the Catholic Church'.
This claim is open to question.
The reason for the existence of Catholic schools, amongst other things, is to inculcate in students a knowledge of, love for, and practice of the Catholic faith.
Surveys reveal, however, that measurable practice of the faith by school leavers after 12 to 13 years of Catholic education is less than five percent, while any knowledge of the faith is negligible. Further revealing statistics indicate that most student teachers at Australian Catholic University have difficulties with the belief or practice of Church teachings.
To the dismay of many parents, solid doctrinal content has not been taught for years and attempts to get the appropriate authorities to correct this situation have proved futile and frustrating.
So what might one have expected from this very expensive, two- day conference with some 1700 teacher attendees? Some solid, orthodox information or teaching?
A study of the comprehensive program reveals there were two keynote speakers, Margaret Wheatley from United States and Fr Sean McDonagh from Ireland, along with many workshops.
The selection of such keynote speakers is a cause for concern when one examines the content of their published writings and statements. The same might be said of other prominent presenters such as Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarelli and Bishop Pat Power.
Some of the above speakers' publications were also on sale.
In short, the distinct impression is that the emphasis at the conference was less on doctrinal orthodoxy than on political correctness in such areas as aboriginal reconciliation, the New Age, the environment and gender and contraceptive issues - in short the spirit of the world appeared to dominate proceedings.
A sad and unfortunate aspect of the whole affair seems to be the almost total lack of recognition or acknowledgment by some bishops and diocesan authorities of the reality that errors continue to be propagated throughout many Catholic schools and areas of adult faith education.
The resulting loss of faith (apostasy) to the Body of Christ (the Church) is no longer simply a laceration, but rather has become a gaping wound. It may well be that redress of this situation can only be achieved by prayer and divine intervention.