|Sydney Lent 40 Days for Life 2013, which was launched by patron Bishop Porteous|
A place, apparently, where parishes are not even allowed to publicise pro-life activities such as the upcoming 40 Days for Life campaign, lest anyone be offended at being told that abortion is murder.
Death of a diocese
Adelaide is one of those dioceses where Catholicism looks like being snuffed out sooner rather than later.
The number of priests continues to fall catastrophically (in 1990 there were nominally a hundred diocesan priests; in 2000, 91; by 2012 it was down to 74), and there are few vocations.
The proportion of Catholics was down substantially in the last census - most of them moving to the no religion group.
Some of the blame for the catastrophic state of decay there can perhaps be sheeted home to Archbishop Wilson's ultra-liberal immediate predecessor. But the decline has continued, and if anything accelerated since Archbishop Wilson was appointed in 2000.
This is after all, the Archdiocese that had the infamous Msgr David Cappo as Vicar General for several years, even while wheeling and dealing as a pseudo-politician.
Where its leadership continues to be under a shadow due to the its current Archbishop facing to possible charges relating to the cover up of child abuse in the Hunter.
It is a place where the Church's ancient liturgical Creed, that of Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, is (surely illicitly) prohibited at Mass because, according to the diocese's website, the officially promulgated new translation fails to use 'inclusive language'.
And now, a layperson has informed me, it is a place where priests are prohibited even from publicising the 40 Days for Life campaign!
40 Days for Life: too uncomfortably confronting for some?
The 40 days for life campaign is, you would have thought, something all of our bishops would be able to get behind. Based around prayer, fasting and a peaceful vigil at an abortion mill, it has spread around the world and proved highly effective.
And indeed, some of our bishops have given it great support. In Sydney for example, the Lenten campaign this year was launched by Bishop Porteous, its patron there, and in Brisbane, The Catholic Leader amongst others gave it a good push.
It is the kind of event at which you'd hope that priests and bishops could just turn up to lend their moral support, as Pope Francis did a few months back.
But in Adelaide, Archbishop Wilson has now directed that priests not publicise the upcoming campaign (starting on September 25). An email from the Vicar General "asks that you do not publicise in our church bulletins the material you may receive from time to time from Forty Days for Life or other similar organisations..."
Vicar General Fr Phillip Marshall can't even bring himself to actually use the word abortion in the explanatory note for this instruction, instead using all sorts of euphemisms and talking about how (instead of fighting abortion head on?) they are doing good things in supporting "those who have died unborn, those who have experienced the loss of unborn children, and the families and communities affected by that loss."
Rejecting the role of the laity!
The stated rationale for not supporting the campaign? Apparently only the bishops are allowed to speak on these issues, and the laity's role is just to pay, pray and obey!
The note suggests that:
"The Archbishop, in his Pastoral Letters and other communications speaks for the whole church in expressing our care", and "In these ways the Archdiocese speaks with a united voice under the leadership of Archbishop Wilson and our message and structures of accountability are clear. This is not always so among other organisations..."
Really? Frankly I always find it bizarre that, despite all of the teachings of Vatican II on the role of the laity, some of our most supposedly 'liberal' bishops are so often the most autocratic in style.
The reality is that the current code of canon law (CL 215& 216) recognises the right of the laity to organise and take apostolic action without any need for official approval or control.
And what is it, precisely, about the message of 40 Days for Life that could possibly be at odds with the Archdiocesan line on such a clear cut issue as abortion?
Is it that 40 Days actually talks about God and prayer in its messaging, and is clearly closely aligned with Catholic views, rather than being ostentatiously 'ecumenical', like the trendoid Australian Religious Response to Climate Change that the very same email asks priests to promote?
Or is it just that even peaceful witness to a pro-life agenda is too 'confronting' for Archbishop Wilson?
Perhaps there really is a genuine issue with this organisation (and apparently every other pro-life organisation in Adelaide). If so, I'd love to hear just what the problem is.
The scandal that is this diocese needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.
**And this story has been picked up by The Vortex, in one of Mr Voris' presentations. Thanks for his kind plug for the blog - do enjoy.