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Third rite (letter)

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 Contents - Mar 2003AD2000 March 2003 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: War in Iraq? Questions to be considered - Peter Westmore
Sydney Archdiocese RE test: behind one school's success story - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World - AD2000
Ten years on former Anglicans enrich Church - Fr Peter Geldard
Vatican tells politicians: Don't hide your light - Michael Casanova
Good priest, bad priest - my faith remains - Frank Mobbs
Religious faith and modern culture: responding to a secular critic - Bill Muehlenberg
Liturgy: The Mass is the same sacrifice as the Cross - Msgr. Peter J. Elliott
New Age ideas: how Catholics should respond - Fr Peter Joseph
The media and evangelisation - Moira Kirkwood
Letters: Brisbane Synod (letter) - John F. Nolan
Letters: 'Partner' or spouse? (letter) - Peter Hannigan
Letters: Women's Commission (letter) - Leon Voesenek
Letters: Church renovation (letter) - T.E. Geraghty
Letters: Government proposals (letter) - Dr Arnold Jago
Letters: Last things (letter) - Kevin McManus
Letters: New springtime (letter) - Errol P. Duke
Letters: Apostolate (letter) - Barry O'Brien
Letters: Catholic websites (letter) - John Carroll
Letters: Third rite (letter) - Norm Power
Letters: Invalid (letter) - Maria Lossberg
Letters: New Age? (letter) - Dr Lance Eccles
Letters: Accountability (letter) - John Leach
Letters: Infallible teaching (letter) - Peter Howard
Poetry: From Tradition (For my mother) - Andrew Huntley
Books: Life's Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide, by Arthur Dyck - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: Human Cloning And Human Dignity: Report of the President's Council on Bioethics - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: The Self Evident Proof, by Richard Kouchoo - Catherine Sheehan (reviewer)
Books: The Latest from AD Books
Reflection: Lenten self-denial - at the very heart of our lives with Christ - Fr F.E. Burns

Events occurred during the week preceding Christmas 2002 that have caused considerable disquiet among members of the Catholic community in the Diocese of Toowoomba. The cause of this is the continued use of the Third Rite of Reconciliation, or what is commonly known as general absolution.

General absolution has been occurring prior to Easter and Christmas in the Toowoomba Diocese for several years. So why is the concern heightened now?

By 1998, use of general absolution was common in many Australian dioceses. However, following release of the Statement of Conclusions, with its directive to keep "use of the Third Rite strictly within the conditions laid down by Church law" - and acceptance of this by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference in April 1999 - use of the Third Rite generally disappeared, save in the Diocese of Toowoomba.

On 2 May 2002, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter, Misericordia Dei (The Mercy of God), to clarify the laws of the Church regarding general absolution. The document refers to "some places" where there has been "a tendency to abandon individual confession and wrongly resort to 'general' or 'communal' absolution."

The content of the clarification makes it clear that general absolution - at least within the city of Toowoomba with its seven parishes - could not be justified by any logical reading of the relevant Canons.

It is understood that at the time of writing (January 2003) the Bishop of Toowoomba has not issued to his priests any clarifying communication concerning his reception and interpretation of The Mercy of God.

Once again, major teaching and clarification statements issued by the Holy See appear to have been passed over in this diocese as if they had never been made.

Toowoomba, Qld

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 2 (March 2003), p. 15

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