Print Version    Email to Friend
Pope moving Church away from the static

BRISBANE (SE): “The pope is bringing out into a very public setting of the papacy what any pastor does in his parish or diocese,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge, from Brisbane in Australia, told America magazine in early December.

Archbishop Coleridge was present at the Synod on Family Life that was held at the Vatican over the past two years and says that he witnessed a lot of disagreement among the bishops present.

But while many were happy to live with the uncertainty, he notes that there was also a percentage that was not and they are the ones who today, are putting out a strong call to Pope Francis for greater clarity.

However, Archbishop Coleridge is not sympathetic with their cause. He told America, “At times in the synod, I heard voices that sounded very clear and certain, but only because they never grappled with the real question or never dealt with the real facts.”

He added that he believes that while there is a genuine search for clarity going on in the whole Church, those who are threatening the pope with censure are actually searching for a false clarity.

“So there is a false clarity that comes because you don’t address reality and there is a false certainty that can come for the same reason,” Archbishop Coleridge explained.

Critics of the pope have gained confidence since four cardinals issued an open letter in September demanding a direct yes-no answer from Pope Francis to five questions about the meaning of his recent apostolic exhortation, The Joy of Love.

They have accused the pope of sowing confusion in the Church on issues that they claim have already been settled by previous popes.

To date, the pope has remained silent in response and commentators believe that he will maintain this posture, as what he is asking for is that the Church confront the issues and not simply wait for a directive from the top.

Archbishop Coleridge says the he thinks that Pope Francis certainly does want the Church to move forward with clarity and certainty, but only after issues have been adequately and properly grappled with, not before.

“In other words, he wants a genuine clarity and genuine certainty rather than the artificial clarity or certainty that comes when you never grapple with issues,” the Australian archbishop says.

He believes that there are two images of the Church here that are clashing rather violently in the current climate, one of which yearns for a static Church. But the way of Pope Francis is quite different, as he wants a kinetic Church that is always progressing.

Archbishop Coleridge says that this is a different kind of Church from what some people are used to and obviously they are not comfortable in this atmosphere.

However, at the same time, he points out that there are a lot of people who are not comfortable in a static Church either, and they stand at the opposite ends of the pole from those who find the process of discernment uncomfortable and want everything to be black and white.

Archbishop Coleridge believes that it is healthy to have an interest in many fields in order to be comfortable in the world of today.

He told America that he looks forward to joining a heavenly banquet with the late-songwriter and poet, Leonard Cohen, as well as Fidel Castro, who died on November 25, in addition to learning about the mental fortitude developed by professional athletes.

When asked if he believes the pope is perturbed at the seeming confusion in the Church today, he said, “I can’t imagine that Pope Francis is deeply anguished over some of the opposition that he faces.”

Nevertheless, he says that he can understand that the four cardinals who issued their ultimatum to the pope are unnerved and have been spoken to by many more people who are unnerved, but he noted that like any pastor, Pope Francis is dealing with a lot of grey areas, where you have to accompany people and listen before you speak.

“Give them time and space and then speak your word—perhaps,” the archbishop concluded.

More from this section