Recently I celebrated the 25th anniversary of my priestly ordination. My silver jubilee! This gives cause for sober reflection on what has happened in the intervening years, gratitude for the many blessings, and resolve about what is to come.
In a recent column I suggested that the Third Rite of Reconciliation should become the norm in parishes so that vulnerable priests and bishops would be protected from activists wanting to entrap them for breaching the legal requirement to disclose an admission of child sexual abuse in Confession. It set off a minor firestorm.
Priests are often ordained on or around 29 June because it is the feast day of Sts Peter and Paul. It is incredible to think that two of the most important saints in the Christian calendar share a feast day.
Recently, Australia has been through a series of sporting dramas: the cricket ball-tampering debacle; our highest paid rugby player embroiled in a row after declaring that gay people are going to hell; and the Commonwealth Games, held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, last month.
On 15 August we celebrate Mary’s Assumption. There is nothing in the doctrine that says Mary didn’t die. Of course she did – she was a human being. The Eastern Church celebrates the feast of Mary’s Dormition, of her falling asleep.
Many Australian Catholics are feeling a bit punch-drunk. In February the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released data regarding the number of cases of abuse since 1950. There has been some dispute about how the numbers were crunched but, however you look at them, the extent of the abuse by priests they reveal is shocking and disturbing.