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Bishop Brian Heenan of Rockhampton has issued a report on the future staffing of parishes in his diocese, Building Our Future Together. In the report, parish churches are called "Mass Centres."
I have recently learned that what is actually happening is that there is a grand total of three priests serving the rural regions of the diocese. Lay people in those areas are encouraged to attend lay-led liturgies, lay-led funeral services, etc. The Bishop apparently believes that the best way to celebrate the Year of Jubilee is to starve the diocese of priests and to spurn any suggestion of foreign priests.
In the early years of this diocese, all the priests were foreign. But that fact raises the taboo subject, history - even if it is politically correct to teach high school students Aboriginal history and about the excessive power of the Catholic Church in medieval Europe.
At the same time, 50 percent of Catholic primary school children in the Rockhampton Diocese attend State schools. A few State school principals are ignoring the bishop's above ideas and enforcing the government regulation, which states that the clergy must be involved in RE in State schools. Catholics in the rural parts of the Rockhampton Diocese are wondering: what clergy?
FRANKLIN J. WOOD
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 13 No 1 (February 2000), p. 18
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