John Lilburne's journal about an article in The Age by Karen Kissane on Archbishop Hart and divisions with the Vatican over priest's rights.



About John Lilburne







2221 L Sat 15 Dec 2001

There is a good article in The Age newspaper today by Karen Kissane with the headline: "Taking Rome to Task". The summary headline is "A great divide has opened up between Australia's Catholic bishops and the Vatican over priests accused of sexual abuse."

She discusses the various viewpoints: Rome's decisions, Archbishop Hart, Father Michael Shadbolt, Broken Rites, and Father Tony Kerin. I thought the most important new information in the article was the concluding quote of Archbishop Hart: "I think I have to show more respect for what the church asks of me and the way I go about it. I will continue the discussion. But the church acknowledges that bishops have serious responsibilities and some of them are not always written down."

Unfortunately I could not find the article on For anyone who has The Age newspaper, it is in Section 2, News Extra, page 1.

Another part of The Age's article that I thought was important was saying: "Unless they voluntarily leave the priesthood, priests are never off the church's books."

There seems to be a similar issue in the United States with a report on of 13 December about the FBI arresting a priest for having child pornography. Part of the report was "The Baltimore Archdiocese said the 35-year-old priest, an associate pastor at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, has been placed on administrative leave and forbidden to exercise any ministry, pending further investigation." But regardless of what accusations there are it seems to me there are ministries that the priest has a right and duty to perform under Canon Law. It may be seen as good public relations in the short term to say he is "forbidden to exercise any ministry". But is it true? If so, are his rights under Canon Law being respected?

The Baltimore Archdiocese press release is more cautious: "removed his faculties to perform ministry". So where there are faculties that can be removed, they have been removed. But some aspects of his ministry, such as hearing confession from someone in danger of death, do not involve having such faculties.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 15 December 2001.

Links to other sites:

Baltimore Archdiocese Press Release