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Far-sightedness of Father Purcell

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 Contents - Dec 2007AD2000 December 2007 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Liturgy: light at the end of the tunnel - Michael Gilchrist
Liturgy: Australian archbishops report progress with new English Mass translations - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Schools: The state of Catholic education: teacher and student experiences - Br Barry Coldrey
Catechetics: Religious education in Catholic schools: the role of parish priests - Michael Gilchrist
Church History: Interesting aspects of ecumenical councils - Frank Mobbs
Britain: British Catholicism: the salt has lost its flavour - John Haldane
1962 Missal: Australian bishops support Benedict XV's liberalising of the Latin Mass - AD2000 Report
Architecture: Did Vatican II recommend the removal of altar rails? - M. Cassey
Letters: Dissent - Brian Bibby
Letters: Far-sightedness of Father Purcell - Fr Brian Harrison OS
Letters: Response - Don Gaffney
Letters: Narrow way - F. Thims
Letters: Latin Mass - Carol V. Phillips
Letters: Pope's Masses - Paul Martin
Letters: True Church - Peter D. Howard
Letters: Homosexual 'marriage' - Arnold Jago
Letters: Unbaptised infants - Lawrence R. Hurley
Letters: Archaeology - Ann Marie Streda
Events: Latin Masses for Christmas in Caulfield and Kew
Books: JESUS, THE APOSTLES AND THE EARLY CHURCH by Pope Benedict XVI - Tim Cannon (reviewer)
Books: THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD AND WOMEN by Sara Butler MSBT - Paul Woodbury (reviewer)
Books: Books available from AD Books
Reflection: May we deepen our longing for the Lord's coming - Bishop Arthur Serratelli

It is sad that Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, whose deeply dissident book you reviewed in the October issue, is apparently passing through a crisis of faith.

He has evidently regressed to the point at which I found myself 35 years ago! I had lost my youthful Protestant belief in 'Sola Scriptura' and was wondering if there was any infallible authority at all on earth. But on coming to realise that without such an authority there is no credible divine revelation at all, I was given the grace to accept in faith the Roman Catholic Church's claim to speak with that authority.

Since Bishop Robinson has evidently ceased to believe in the infallibility of either ex cathedra papal definitions or ecumenical councils, he is unfortunately on a trajectory that could logically lead him to abandon historic Christianity altogether.

That, as I say, is sad. But the Bishop's book also provokes indignation, because serious harm to the Church and to souls is caused when a successor of the Apostles who has made a shipwreck of the faith decides not to 'go quietly', but rather to trumpet his doubts and uncertainties to the world in a book of several hundred pages.

Since this Bishop is now advocating something pretty much like liberal Anglicanism, his book will confirm Protestant and Orthodox Christians in their errors, delight the Church's secularist enemies, and inject further dissent and confusion into an already weakened and divided Australian Catholic community.

This sorry affair only proves the far-sightedness of a great battler for the faith, the late Fr Terence Purcell, who realised Geoffrey Robinson should never have been made a bishop in the first place.

Supported by dozens of other Sydney priests back in 1982, when then-Father Robinson was being widely touted as a future bishop, Fr Purcell repeatedly tried to warn Vatican authorities that Fr Robinson was a public dissenter from Church doctrine prohibiting divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving Communion.

Unfortunately, the Pro-Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, refused to forward these grave concerns to Rome.

Sure enough, Fr Robinson was ordained a bishop in early 1984. About a month later, Fr Purcell learned that his own registered airmail letter of December 1982 direct to the then-Cardinal Ratzinger, documenting the Sydney priest's flagrant unorthodoxy, had mysteriously failed ever to reach His Eminence.

St Louis, Missouri, USA

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 20 No 11 (December 2007 - January 2008), p. 13

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