Australia: Holy See tells Catholic diocese not to host Anglican ordination of women

Yes, you read that correctly.

I picked up this story from an Australian source

I get the sense that, in the past, the local Catholic diocese in Victoria had allowed Anglicans to have ordinations in a

My emphases and comments.

Vatican ban on offer to Anglicans
November 28, 2009

THE Vatican has ordered a Victorian bishop to withdraw an offer to let Anglicans ordain deacons in a Catholic church tomorrow because four of the seven are women.

Bendigo Catholics and Anglicans have both expressed sadness [Why am I not surprised?] at the decision, which comes a month after Pope Benedict XVI told Anglicans they were welcome to become Catholics and keep their Anglican identity[Ummm…. yah.   But, that identity doesn’t include things against the Christian faith, right?]

Sandhurst Bishop Joe Grech offered Bendigo Anglican Bishop Andrew Curnow use of the city’s oldest Catholic church for the celebratory service because the Anglican cathedral is closed for repairs.

Bishop Grech said yesterday that he had checked widely before offering St Kilian’s, and had the approval of the Papal Nuncio (ambassador), Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto[Did any of them check ahead of time who… or what… was scheduled to be ordained?]

But he was ordered to withdraw the offer by a Vatican department – he did not want to say which – after a Catholic complained to Rome about the planned service. 

”It had wider ramifications, and the conclusion was it was better not to have it,” Bishop Grech said.

”I was saddened, obviously. I was disappointed I couldn’t help more, but there is tremendous rapport between us and the Anglicans. They know it’s not a snub, it’s the doctrine of the church.”

Sandhurst Vicar-General John White also said he was disappointed. ”We believe we have a very good working relationship with the Anglicans, and there was no way we were endorsing their theological stance for the ordination of women – it was a generous offer to help when they could not use their own facility.”  [Really?  So, if someone, for example, opens up his home to a guy who, for example, want to have a political campaign and helps raise money and so forth, neither of them are endorsing each other’s positions?  Would they allow, for example, worshipers of Moloch to have one of their services in the church?  Extreme examples, I know.  But somewhere along the line the question has to be asked: Is this right?]

Anglican theologian Charles Sherlock – a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, which is discussing theological rapprochement between the churches – said it was particularly disappointing because Bishop Grech had been so generous.

‘It is disappointing that he is not allowed to act as he thinks best for the people of God in Bendigo,” Dr Sherlock said.  [But is it not important that your counterparts in ecumenical dialogue are also true to their identity?]

Anglican Dean Peta Sherlock (Dr Sherlock’s wife) said the Anglicans would hold tomorrow’s ordination at St Andrew’s Uniting Church instead, and were grateful for the hospitality.

”I think it’s indeed sad. Catholics in Bendigo are shocked by it. They say ‘it’s not us’, and we say ‘we know’. It was a fantastic good news story, and now it’s gone.”  [And it is still a fantastic news story, because that ordination is not happening in a catholic church.]

Dean Sherlock said the Anglican cathedral closed in January. ”There’s bits falling off. Anything cement or mortar has perished.”  [There is a metaphor here somewhere.   …. Nope.. it’s gone.  I hope they can fix their building!]

She said restoring the cathedral would cost $5 million. An appeal had been launched, which so far had raised $20,000.

”We are worshipping in the hall next door and having fantastic fun. We sit closer together, talk to each other and sing much better. [Well… that’s what is all about, after all.] But it’s the big stuff we can’t do: weddings, funerals, ordinations.”

Local Catholics criticised the decision and apologised to Anglicans in letters to the Bendigo Advertiser. Beryl Rokesky wrote: ”I was ashamed to call myself a Catholic … Contrary to what we were taught in Catholic schools, Catholics aren’t the only ones who will end up in heaven.”  [Have you seen the reporter – to this point – quote someone who was happy about the decision?  No?]

Peter Bugden wrote that the decision was evidence that the Roman Curia was concerned with power and control, and that Christianity had been usurped by Churchianity.  [Wow.  That’s clever.]

Bishop Curnow is on retreat with the seven ordinands and could not be contacted.


I suspect some people in Bendigo, in the diocese of Sandhurst, might be pleased that a simulation of a sacrament won’t be taking place in their church.

Too bad the reporter didn’t have the integrity to do some… what’s the word…. you know… reporting?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Stu says:

    Maybe the Masons could be allowed to use the Church as well when their lodge undergoes renovations. Absolutely amazing.

  2. Norah says:

    This will give you some idea of what Faithful Catholics in Australia have to endure from their shepherds.

  3. In Sacred Heart Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, under the episcopacy of Archbishop Peter L. Gerety, John Shelby Spong was allowed to have his installation as the Episcopal bishop of Newark. This happened in the 1970s or 1980s. The reason given: There were no Episcopal churches large enough to contain the anticipated crowds. Spong is the author of: Why Christianity Must Change or Die. He protested bitterly when the Vatican refused to ordain women even taking his arguments to the press. Archbishop Peter L. Gerety is still alive and, quite frankly, I sincerely hope he lives for another one thousand years as a perennial reminder of the Fruits of the Second Vatican Council.

  4. MargaretMN says:

    I remember when a town in MN was hit by a tornado right before Easter, The Catholic Church let the Lutheran church hold services in their building and held some joint prayer services, that were oriented toward the rebuilding of the community. (At least I think that is how it went). In extremis, it was a nice gesture but inevitably, people wanted to continue the combined services and all sorts of confusion willful and otherwise. The bishop called a halt to it after awhile but some people were unhappy.

  5. Orville says:

    3 years ago this diocese hosted a ‘teachers conference’ that was the source of one of the most disruptive protests ever seen at a Catholic sponsored event. Every teacher employed by the Education dept. of this diocese (Sandhurst) was required to attend this 2 day orgy of dissenting Catholic teaching and pro-homosexual propaganda or have their pay docked. The diocese payed for every teacher (approx 1500) to sleep over in a motel and had every meal catered for which also included a 3 course dinner at around $45 per head. During the smoking ceremony conducted by the local pagan Aboriginal groups a young man broke through the security of the conference and wearing his JP-II ‘Don’t be Afraid’ T-Shirt and a crucifix in his right hand burst through the conference and disrupted it for 10 mins. He was thrown out but only to return dressed in different clothes and did the same thing at huge embarrassment to the same Bishop ‘Joe’ Joseph Grech (champion of the yoof). The young man was punched and kicked to the ground by the security thugs and the Diocese CEO. This was all recorded by the local media and their hasn’t been a ‘teachers conference’ since. My spies tell me that the young man, now 3 years older and wiser rang the Bishop and warned him that if he thought he caused a fracas 3 years ago then His Lordship had seen nothing yet and he had 50 young people ready to do the same with him and out of respect for his office that he had to ring to warn him that ‘he was coming’. The next day the ‘ordinations’ were moved to another building.
    I’m not from that diocese but with young men like that wielding so much power over such a weak shepherd then I think I might have to move there, sounds like we could have some fun!

  6. JARay says:

    It has always seemed to me that the weakest link, as it were, of the Church in Australia, has come from the Eastern States. Of course I am saddened by this episode, but then, I’m not in the least surprised. It took Archbishop Bathersby, the Archbishop of Brisbane, (I know that my American readers have no idea where East is, or West, is in Australia ), over four years to close down a totally dissident parish in Brisbane where the priest was baptising children in the name of the Creator and the Redeemer and the Sanctifier. Please keep Eastern Australia in your prayers because of the dreadful pastoral care that their Bishops give.

  7. DLPalmer says:

    As a Brit, the term ‘Victorian Bishop’ left me somewhat amused!

  8. Nerinab says:


    The Masons have used our church facilities for two years now (not the actual church, but the parish center attached to the church) for their fundraising dinner (they sold their lodge a couple of years ago). When questioned by parish council members, our priest said it was done “out of charity.” A long discussion ensued, believe me.


    The situation you describe happens here in the USA also. Our bishop took years to shut down a schismatic church that had a woman celebrating the Mass and consecrating the Eucharist. It also received national media attention.

    These are all examples of ecumenism falsely understood.

  9. Peter says:

    Thanks Father for posting this (even though we in the Antipodes are a long was from where you are).

    There are several dioceses in the State of Victoria. All the country ones have been bad for years. Bp Grech was supposed to be one for the side of right. He has proved to be different to expectations.

    The sharing of church buildings in country Australia is becoming commonplace – often the Catholics using the Anglican facilities. However it isn’t restricted to the remote areas (where at least there is some in extremis argument). Arbp Bathersby of the metropolitan diocese of Brisbane has overseen the sharing of a range of facilities with the Anglicans (if memory serves it was in connection with seminary training).

    I would take issue with JARay’s implication that it is just the east of Australia that has problems. (You can forget the middles, as unlike the continental USA, the vast middle of Australia is very, very sparsely populated – in line with it being a desert). I wouldn’t say things were that flash in Western Australia (witness the planed and hideous cathedral wreckovation) and there is still plenty to raise eyebrows about in South Australia.

    Australia’s church in many ways is in a bad way, and we have quite a deal of the sectarian secularism that is sweeping Britain.

  10. chcrix says:


    Many of us actually do know the geography of Australia ;-).

    Some of us even know about vegemite and how to talk strine.

  11. Tom A. says:

    All false ordinations should not be allowed in a Catholic Church regardless whether its a man or woman. It is folly to pretend that there is any validity to the ordination to begin with.

  12. pelerin says:

    Tom A’s comment was exactly what I was thinking when I read the report. It would appear that it was only when it was found out that women would be involved in the ‘ordinations’ that the offer was cancelled. Surely any invalid ‘ordinations’ whether men or women should not be allowed in a Catholic cathedral?

    Fr Z’s comment on ‘There’s bits falling off’ made me laugh! And his comment following ‘We sit closer together’ too. Although this reminded me of an interview I saw on the net this morning with a Parisian priest describing his very new modern Catholic church where he said it was designed so that the faithful can look at each other! I could not believe my ears!

  13. Hamburglar says:

    I look at it like this: it doesn’t matter so much that women were to go through a simulated ordination. All seven of the people that were to be “ordained” would not receive valid Orders. No one should be going through a simulated ordination in a Catholic Church. I don’t care if they are all men, their ordinations are just as invalid as the women’s. I can’t believe a Bishop would allow such a mockery of the Sacrament in the presence of Christ Himself.

  14. Gail F says:

    Why would a bishop ever offer a Catholic church for anyone else’s “ordinations”? We don’t consider them valid, no matter whose they are. I can see a social hall being rented out, but the church itself??? And surely the Anglicans don’t value a pretty church over it being THEIR OWN church, do they? I mean, wouldn’t they rather be ordained in a small Anglican church, or even a rented hotel ballroom, than in a Catholic church? This is one of those times when you wonder if any of the involved have their priorities straight, or whether any of them believe in their religion.

    Of course, a year or two ago an American synagogue was used for a dissident “Catholic” ordination of women. Talk about a bizarre idea. Did the rabbi (who was a woman) value feminism more than Judaism? Did she think it was all pretend so it didn’t matter? What a crazy world!

  15. caterham says:

    “Of course, a year or two ago an American synagogue was used for a dissident “Catholic” ordination of women. Talk about a bizarre idea. Did the rabbi (who was a woman) value feminism more than Judaism? Did she think it was all pretend so it didn’t matter?”

    Actually, that seems like a pretty good fit.

  16. caterham says:

    It’s disturbing how much this false ecumenism has been engrained (and enshrined) in so many modern Catholics. At least this story had a happy ending though.

  17. Peggy R says:

    We have in-laws in Bendigo. It’s not that far from Melbourne. At an Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne I recall seeing a kneeler with a plaque that said JP2 prayed there. We did not attend Mass there; we were in Canberra for Sunday where we attended a lukewarm novus ordo–I recall a sign that there was a TLM after noon on Sundays at the Church we attended.

    [Some one mentioned Rabbi Talvo of STL, MO: She remains in cahoots with Mr Bozek at St Stan’s and with another rebellious parish where a nun, Sr. Lears, has incurred discipline. P.S. Bozek has hinted that he might leave St Stans which may allow it to return to the fold, depending on the rebellious board members I suppose. Not only is there rampant apostacy, the financial situation of St Stan’s is a mess as well–recall their rebellion was all about money.]

  18. Peter says:

    Peggy R, if you were at Mass in Canberra and it advertised the TLM, I presume it was St Peter & Paul’s. The TLM is offered in that church at 11.30am each Sunday as part of the Canberra FSSP apostolate:

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