A woke, weak and oh so mediocre Church

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Plenary members follow business during the Second Assembly of the Council in Sydney held from 3-9 July. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Plenary members follow business during the Second Assembly of the Council in Sydney held from 3-9 July. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The smug Catholic left do not want a resurrected church that announces Jesus to our age. They want power. Now. And the troublesome bishops are in the way

Catholic arguments make good watching. Other churches bicker over scones and tea. We have schisms, excommunication and burning.

During the past week there has been an exciting Catholic show in town. It is the ponderously named Plenary Council of the Australian Church, playing in Sydney.

Plenary councils are gatherings of the whole church: bishops, nuns, brothers, laity and grand mugwumps. Rarely summoned, they assemble to consider directions for the church.

For a decision to be made, it must be supported both by the bishops and the assorted remainder of the plenary. Think of needing both houses of parliament to make a law.

Unfortunately, there has been a radical gang of lay bomb-throwers inside what is meant to be a harmonious plenary.

“The Molotov cocktail faction made this their battleground, even though it was beyond the brief of the plenary, and already under definitive consideration by Rome.”

They would stop at nothing to get their own way, which is a takeover of the Australian church by their own tiny group.

Their antics first hit the media over the issue of female deacons, a species of sub-priests.

The Molotov cocktail faction made this their battleground, even though it was beyond the brief of the plenary, and already under definitive consideration by Rome.

The bishops had no choice but to pause over this out-of-order motion. But this is precisely what the religious Bolsheviks wanted. Cynically, they immediately portrayed their opponents as sexist, misogynist and uncool. Apparently, female delegates arguing they already had powerful roles within the church were mocked.

Righteous delegates even refused to take their seats or continue with the voting. Instead, they stood ostentatiously against the wall, muttering imprecations.

Naturally, a ruthless pre-planned media assault was implemented. Plenary members are sworn to confidentiality, but sympathetic Catholic publications buzzed with carefully fanned rage over the perfidy of bishops and politically incorrect laity.

In the name of Thomas Aquinas, what is going on here?

Unsurprisingly, like most fights purportedly about principle, this is all about power.
Within the Australian Catholic Church a powerful new class has emerged. They are not bishops or priests, let alone the women and men who fill the pews and run the parishes. God forbid.

This is the new Catholic managerial class. In a church whose activities in education, health and social services have grown exponentially, these are people who run major operations, much like the directors of commercial enterprises.

“Overwhelmingly, these are the smug left of the Catholic Church who smiled as the innocent but conservative Cardinal George Pell was railroaded into prison.”

They are brash, confident and self-regarding. They know they are cleverer than other Catholics, particularly the despised, stumbling bishops. Dictation within their church is nothing more than their due.

Overwhelmingly, these are the smug left of the Catholic Church who smiled as the innocent but conservative Cardinal George Pell was railroaded into prison. It was just a useful incident, to be deployed for the cause.

Their chosen battlefield is church governance, where they mercilessly condemn the current governors, the bishops.

They assiduously blame child abuse on the bishops’ defective governance, even though much abuse occurred in religious orders outside episcopal control or was perpetrated by laymen. But what they really want is to get their own pious hands on the levers of power.

Pope Francis’s profound concept of collaborative synodality has been twisted by ageing Catholic radicals to suit their own ideological agenda, which seeks to define the faith of the Church according to fashionable contemporary social values rather than the timelessness of the Gospel, writes Prof Greg Craven. PHOTO: CNS
Pope Francis’s profound concept of collaborative synodality has been twisted by ageing Catholic radicals to suit their own ideological agenda, which seeks to define the faith of the Church according to fashionable contemporary social values rather than the timelessness of the Gospel, writes Prof Greg Craven. PHOTO: CNS

Either directly, by transferring bishops’ powers to lay-dominated bodies, or indirectly by tying up functions with so many layers of consultation it comes to the same thing.

Most members of this Catholic haute bourgeoisie are grey-haired boomers, male or female, in love with the swinging 60s and their own interpretation of Vatican II.

They demand to replace those other grey-haired men, the bishops, at the helm of the church.

They want not a resurrected church but a woke church.

Unsurprisingly, like most fights purportedly about principle, this is all about power.

“The church should not assess or critique society from a Christian perspective but assimilate itself to prevalent popular values.”

Behind them is a deeply condescending ideology. At heart secularists, they believe the church should conform with whatever values are the norm in society.

Any failure here demonstrates that the church is behind the “signs of the times”, and should change course.

In reality, they are assimilators. The church should not assess or critique society from a Christian perspective but assimilate itself to prevalent popular values.

God knows – literally – what would have happened if Jesus Christ had adopted this attitude. He probably would have become a Roman emperor.

At heart secularists, they believe the church should conform with whatever values are the norm in society. Photo: CNS/Daniele Mascolo, Reuters
At heart secularists, they believe the church should conform with whatever values are the norm in society. Photo: CNS/Daniele Mascolo, Reuters

Pope John Paul II would have been an apparatchik in the Polish Communist Party. Pope Francis would be a member of an Argentinian junta.

The whole program is justified through the concept of synodality, which is a profound teaching disseminated by Pope Francis.

In his thinking, it is all about different bits of the church – bishops, priests and laity – working in co-operation and without condescension.

He repeatedly warns that synodality is not a crude form of democracy, where the exercise of different functions within the church is eliminated.

But this is precisely what the radicals are selling, although this democracy will be firmly guided by them. They spuriously claim the mantle of Pope Francis to pursue their own ends.

“The assimilators will continue their campaign to ensure the Catholic Church is woke, weak and wounded, and under their control.”

Of course, the ultimate question is why all this matters.

Ultimately, it will matter enormously to ordinary Catholics, when they discover that they are governed by ideological bureaucrats, with no interest in the things vital to the plebs – such as mass and the consoling sacraments. It will matter when Catholic works of charity are only those on the approved, progressive list.

Whatever the final payload of the plenary, we can be sure of one thing. The assimilators will continue their campaign to ensure the Catholic Church is woke, weak and wounded, and under their control.

This article first appeared at www.theaustralian.com.au

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