The Tablet reported recently that Geoffrey Robinson the recently retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney Australia has come out against compulsory celibacy for priests .Well-versed in the habitually arcane politics of the Vatican, Robinson nixed the authoritarian and centralized style of the institutional Church, saying that encouraged secrecy and coverups. His book Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church is quite critical of the policies of both John Paul ll and the present pope Benedict XVl for their inability to deal with the sex abuse scandal which has roiled through the Catholic Church in recent decades.
Robinson, abused himself as a child, intimates that clerics enmeshed in bureaucratic structures which demand ultimate fealty, have little understanding of the shattering effects of such abuse.
One applauds Bishop Robinson’s “conversion”—he must not have been a John Paul ll appointee or else he could not live with the obvious contradictions in the present feudal structures of the Church. Too bad that he had to wait for retirement before calling for such dialogue.Such is the iron cage and self censorship that these men live under when they accept the crozier and mitre.
At any rate he speaks common sense.The book is causing a dust up in the hopelessly conservative bailiwick of George Pell, one of the most loyal Roman appointments on record. Even for Australia Pell is in a league of his own at brooking no dissent.
The Tablet also reported that a growing number of prominent Australian Catholics have been making a case for church reform. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on the bishops to consider the ordination of married men and women in order to deal with what they called “a major crisis of ministry and leadership in Australian Catholicism”.
In late August an outspoken advocate for reform, Canberra auxiliary Bishop Patrick Power, published an open letter to petition organisers, stating that at the heart of the issue was the relationship of the local Church to the universal Church.
“I clearly recognise the need for the local Church to be in communion with the See of Peter but there needs to be much more reciprocity in the relationship. Unless diocesan bishops are allowed to exercise the powers intrinsic to their office, many urgent questions will be neglected,” wrote Bishop Power.