Interrogation of Very Reverend Gerard Dowling (from Acta Processus, In Causa Lilburne - Dowling, 301 00 165, First Instance, Tribunal of the Catholic Church, Victoria and Tasmania, pages 22 - 23):







Interrogation of the respondent,Very Reverend Gerard Patrick Dowling

The Respondent, Very Reverend Gerard Patrick Dowling, gave evidence before the Very Reverend Ian B Waters, Judicial Vicar, at St Patrick's Cathedral Presbytery, East Melbourne, Victoria, on Saturday, 10th February 2001, at 11.20 a.m.

1. Do you understand the sacred nature of an oath? Will you please give evidence under oath?

Yes. (Oath taken).

2. Please give your name, address, date of birth, date of ordination and present appointment?

Gerard Patrick Dowling. I was born on the 30th August, 1932. I was ordained a priest on 27th July, 1958. I have been Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral East Melbourne since 1st July, 1999.

3. John Lilburne has presented a Petition to the Tribunal stating that you have infringed his rights by breaching the prescriptions of Canons 230, 220, 231, 846 and 1375. Attached to his Petition are his letters to you of 4th July, 2000, 14th September, 2000 and 13th October, 2000, and your reply to him of 25th October, 2000. How do you reply to his claim that you have infringed his rights?

I have not consciously infringed his rights, and I am sad he would see it that way.

4. Who decides who reads at Masses and other Liturgical Ceremonies in St Patrick's Cathedral?

Most of the decisions were made and were in place before I came here. That means the rosters were - and still are - in place. I have not altered the rosters for Sundays or major Feasts. For weekends, I have allowed the arrangements that were in place to follow through. I believe that the ultimate responsibility of who reads at Masses is mine. I have not consciously excluded John Lilburne from ever reading.

5. In your letter of the 25th October, 2000, you told the Petitioner that you were not ready to discuss his request to read at the Cathedral, as there were still no vacancies, and there was a waiting list. Are these reasons still valid?

Yes, they are. As regards the waiting list, a number of people have indicated a desire to read, and I know that some have expressed a desire to rearrange the present system and mix of readers. In fact, within the last few months, there were letters to the Editor in the Melbourne Age newspaper about the perceived bias at the Cathedral in favour of male readers. In view of this, I have a plan to review all this, namely who reads, how well they read, wht training they need, and so on.

6. Are the any other reasons why the Petitioner would be refused permission to read?

I must be honest and say that I wondered whether his exclusion from the Seminary would be a bar to his reading here at the Cathedral. I simply wondered this, and have not got around to acting on it. I did consider asking the Archbishop, but did not raise the issue because as yet there have been no reader vacancies.

7. Do you see the fact of the Petitioner having been liturgically instituted as a lector giving him any rights to read at the Cathedral in preference to non-instituted readers?

My view is "does anyone have rights?" I consider the matter of reading as a call rather than a right. The primary concern, as far as I am concerned, is proclaiming the word of God. I do not know at this stage whether John Lilburne can or cannot read well. He may be a brillant reader, but I simply do not know.

8. Are you bound to celebrate Mass and other ceremonies in the Cathedral or in any other Church following the directives of the Ceremonial of Bishops?

I would need to seek further advice on that.

9. Does the fact of the Petitioner not being a parishioner of St Patrick's Cathedral parish change anything?

No. Most people who are involved at the Cathedral are non-parishioners. There are so few people resident in this parish. Also, the Cathedral is more than just a parish church. It is the mother Church of the Archdiocese, and, therefore, belongs to everyone.

10. Is there anything else you would like to say?

I have no personal objection whatsoever to John Lilburne being a reader of the Word of God at the Cathedral. My decision was and still is that the roster and personnel and waiting list are all to be reviewed.

St Patrick's Cathedral Presbytery


Gerard Dowling

10th February, 2001.

I.B. Waters

Copyright J.R. Lilburne 8 Oct 2001.