Catholic on the edge

In the wake of Covid a lot of attention is being paid to issues like women’s rights, family violence, aboriginal rights, political failures in basic morality and so on, all worthy of time, money, attention. Running parallel with all this is planning for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, due to begin this Sunday. Covid hasn’t stopped top level sport and it’s not going to stop this long-planned Catholic talk-fest either. Whether now is the time for football, or discerning the future of the Catholic Church in Australia, is problematic.

The last Plenary Council was held in the year of my birth and Baptism. Just as my baby pictures no longer bear any resemblance to what I see in the mirror today, neither does today’s Catholicity. A few months ago I wrote Catholic in the religion section of the census form but I’m not sure that where I sit, out on the edge and a long way from the Catholic centre, actually makes me a ‘good’ Catholic.

Out on the edge of things, far away from the years of preparation that Catholic women and men have been putting into this Plenary Council, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about God and my Catholic beliefs. What I am going to write next is probably heretical, but here goes – is God a catholic?

I’m not even going to try to open up that can of religious worms right now – if ever, but I hope to talk more about it in the coming weeks. Over lockdown I’ve ever so slowly been putting into words what I understand, and sometimes just sense, about God and Jesus and the practices and beliefs that have been gathered into Christianity. I’m still only half-way through what I plan to write, and already onto the third draft as I struggle with the depths of meaning in church words that I thought I understood.  

I’ve s-l-o-w read books and articles by reputable theologians that  have challenged my understanding of life-long, taken-for-granted religious beliefs. I’ve come to the conclusion that my post-Vatican 2 theology is possibly a little worn and dated, so this week Australia Post has dropped a parcel of books at the front door. They are all-Australian, authors and publisher (Coventry Press) alike.

New Wineskins : Eucharist in Today’s Context by Frank O’Loughlin

Broken for You : Jesus Christ, the Catholic Priesthood and the Word of God by Francis J. Moloney

Call No One Father ; Countering Clericalism in the Catholic Tradition by Berise Heasly

Dawn to Dusk : Towards a Spirituality of Ageing by Noel Mansfield MSC

No Greater Love : The Human Experience of God by Brian Gallagher MSC

They are not long books and I will read them with a highlighter in hand and an attitude that might be called ‘deep reading’, listening for the voice of God in the world we live in. Which I believe is also the task facing the members of the fifth Australian Plenary Council.


3 Replies to “Catholic on the edge”

  1. As the Codda Beens on ABC radio would say, “ Enjoy your catch-up “, you game wise woman.

    Love, admiration and patience for you as you start into those up to date publications,

    Kindly and affectionately, Sandi


  2. I’m with you Judith. My fear is that there is more than one Holy Spirit being listened to and the answers, to the many questions a lot of us have, will be a very male version of that Spirit:((

  3. Hearing you loud and clear! I describe myself as a free range Catholic. Working on my tome entitled “Womb to Tomb Inc”. A truck load of head work and heart work ( metaphoric and physical) finds me in a better space than I have been for a very long time.

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