It is a long way from the foothills of the Snowies to Brisbane. Even so, like many others, I’m sure, I have been reading with much interest your reports of the sad situation in the South Brisbane parish of St Mary’s.
Our prayers to the Holy Spirit will certainly win out in the long run.
There is a second positive and key factor that I find particularly gratifying. I refer to the manner in which Archbishop John Bathersby reacted on receiving the communication from the Vatican.
In his letter to the parish, he showed himself to be the true pastor, Christ-like in every way.
I have no doubt whatsoever that I am not alone in feeling a sense of inspiration for, and gratitude to the Archbishop:
* There was absolutely nothing authoritarian, high handed or “I’ll-stop-them-in-their-tracks” attitude. He acted and spoke as a grieving father working within his family towards a solution to a grave problem.
* He expressed his appreciation and support for the many “good” things parishioners are doing, motivated by their “sense of social justice”.
* His was a humble appeal for balance between their “doing” and “praying”, with a particular focus on praying after the example of Jesus himself.
* He saw the question, not as one for “authority” to force the issue out of hand by closing down the parish. On the contrary, he trusted the parish itself to take initiatives in addressing issues that had arisen.
* The parishioners were encouraged to define their own processes for subsequent action.
* This must undoubtedly be a personal, heart-rending anguish for the Archbishop at this sad time. Through it, he vividly exemplifies the passion-prayer of Jesus in the garden: an inspiration to us all.
Thank you and God bless you, Archbishop Bathersby.
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