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Call for change based on human dignity


Brighton parishioner Graham Spurling has outlined key elements of the life of the Catholic Church that he believes need addressing in a letter to Australian metropolitan bishops.

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Mr Spurling, a former chair of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and recipient of an Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the manufacturing industry, said he felt  compelled to write to the bishops after studying the documents associated with the forthcoming Plenary Council.

“I have read every published word and have spent many hours re-reading, reflecting and referring to the Gospel,” he said.

“This has resulted in the identification of the main concerns and questions emanating from the consultation process.”

Mr Spurling described his submission as “change based on human dignity with overt recognition and guidance of the Holy Spirit”.

His six areas of concern are summarised below:

A Missionary Church

Our Australian Church has long since accepted a missionary responsibility beyond our shores. Many of our Catholic schools have active missionary programs.

Like much of our Church’s charitable programs, our goals can be enhanced by introducing a coordinated approach of activity across our rich and willing source of school and tertiary students.

I recommend that a plan be formalised and encouraged.

Charities and brand names

Our goal is to improve the reputation and image of our Catholic Church in the public eye.

Our charitable works are impeccable.

With a few exceptions our recognition is minimal.

We have a proliferation of activities and a proliferation of brands.

A professional, disciplined approach is needed across the nation. Salvation Army oozes charity – so does St Vincent de Paul. Hutt St Centre says homeless but not Catholic.

Catholic Charities says Catholic but lacks magnetism. We tried ‘Living Catholic’ but it was ignored by many.

Calvary in the health care sector is taken for granted but is it doing anything for the Catholic image?

We need to conduct a review of our brands taking into account financial efficiency, market attraction of donations, discipline and consistency of brand use and other factors that are well known within the marketing fraternity.

It will cost money but it will facilitate our goal of improving our image and at the same time maintaining God’s work.


Mass attendance

This issue needs no explanation but I believe we need to recognise that the solution is beyond the strength of the individual parishes to fix.

We now have two generations of non-Mass going Catholics.

The first disciples started from a zero base with clear verbal instructions from God through Jesus.

The people were taught by word and example.

The people got the message. Our Church grew.

Young people today understand and relate to the message of showing love by example and deed.

Let’s do it again. Let’s grow our Church.

Send our young people out on the track to Damascus. Send them out into the field.

They will love the jobs and the challenge with the Holy Spirit holding their hand.

This will lead them into an understanding and appreciation of the sacramentality of the Mass.


Multiculturalism and our Church

Does our Church fully recognise the great benefits and the ominous risks being faced in the multicultural Church of today?

Mgr David Cappo has outlined the situation in his article in the May issue of The Southern Cross.

We have been blessed with priests from faraway places who have brought their culture and unique spirituality to this desert of secular Australia.

How can our Church show them love and appreciation?

How can our Church open the hearts and minds to learn from these voluntary missionaries? Failure to act will be a victory for what
Mgr Cappo calls ‘passive racisim’.


Aboriginal issues

The public debate has been centred on political issues. They are important but our country has not made enough progress in resolving the plight of our Indigenous people.

Our Church needs to initiate and lead a national study group, under the auspices of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, to analyse why our sad situation continues to exist and define a new process of thought and action.

A superordinate and optimistic process beyond politics and racism.


Strategic financing

We must prepare a vision that incorporates the required expenditure for the new strategies that will come from the Council.

The Plenary is asking us to undertake more work and find a way to do it.

Missionary work comes with a price. We need to recognise the need to initiate and participate in a national strategic financing study.


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