Retiring bishop: “Wider reform is needed” in the Church

Retiring bishop: “Wider reform is needed” in the Church June 11, 2012

He has a reputation for being both progressive and outspoken — and both qualities were on display in an interview with Australia’s ABC News:

Father Pat Power has resigned after more than 25 years as the bishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

He has become known as one of the church’s more progressive leaders, questioning the need for priests to be celibate and for women to be excluded from senior roles.

Father Power says the sexual abuse scandals have diminished the authority of the church and warns that unless there is reform, parishes will continue to shrink.

“There’s been the whole question of sexual abuse, which has brought a terrible stain on the life of the church,” he said.

“But I think there’s wider reform that’s needed there and my great sadness is the fact that the second Vatican Council gave us the pathway, I think, for the church to be more accommodated to bring the message of Christ to the modern world.

He says the Catholic Church is in a “critical position” in Australia and may other parts of the world in terms of shortage of clergy.

“While we persist in this disciplinary world that Catholic priests in the Latin rite are not able to marry, there are just less and less young people coming into the priesthood,” Father Power said.

“We’re in a situation in our diocese, for instance, where we’re just desperately short.

“I wrote to the Pope in 2010, talking about the situation in Wilcannia-Forbes and suggesting that in each of those parishes, good married men… after some training, could be ordained and serve the church there and I said what’s happening there is progressively going to happen across the rest of Australia.”

He says it was a message the Vatican did not want to hear.

“I think that’s sad and I think a lot of times bishops are reluctant to speak as strongly as I have about it for fear that they’re being disloyal to Rome,” he said.

Read the rest, and see video of the interview, at the link.

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