Australia: Auxiliary bishop writes to Pope, considers resignation, Church too narrow

The Canberra Times has this

Hard times: troubled bishop writes to Pope
08 Mar, 2011 08:12 AM

The parlous [“parlous”?  This is somewhat obsolete version of “perilous”.] state of the Catholic Church in Australia led Auxiliary [!] Bishop of Canberra Pat Power [the old gent in the powder-puff blue jumper, above] to write formally [Is there any other way?] to the Pope in November.

No reply has been received and Bishop Power is considering early retirement.

He said yesterday he was disappointed rather than disillusioned with the Church.

The second Vatican Council had given great hope and some wonderful things had happened, he said.

”But in other ways we have retreated into fairly narrow positions. [?] I just think it is a shame the potential we had to be a source of inspiration within the whole community has been diminished.” [Has there been nothing in Australia which contributed to that over the last few years?  Or is that Rome’s fault too?]

Bishop Power had been prompted to write to the Pope, particularly over the parlous [“parlous” again!  It wasn’t a mistake the first time!] state of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, which has remained without a bishop since the resignation of Bishop Chris Toohey almost two years ago. [And Rome didn’t appoint Bp. Power?]

The diocese, which covers more than half the area of NSW, has 20 parishes and only about 15 priests.

”I maintain that what is happening in Wilcannia-Forbes at the moment is going to progressively become the situation in other Australian dioceses,” Bishop Power said.  [If they can’t find a priest to promote to bishop in all this time…  Hmmm…]

The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn had kept the ship afloat to some extent, with overseas priests. But Bishop Power said he was deeply concerned about the health and morale of its priests. ”I am not saying the morale in the diocese is not good, but it is tested when priests are doing a whole lot more than really they should be asked [So!  Retire early!] .. Part of my role is vicar for clergy. I am genuinely concerned for the health and well-being of our priests.”

Bishop Power will turn 70 next year. ”I am thinking seriously of retirement when I turn 70.” Bishops and priests normally retire at 75. [Wait a minute!  There is a priest shortage but he is thinking about retiring five years earlier than his priests?] On whether he had expected a reply from the Pope to his letter, Bishop Power chuckled and said, ”Normally, when you write a letter, you expect a reply.”

But he took no personal insult that he had not yet received a reply. [The Pope might be busy.  After all these are parlous times.]

The Canberra Times reported in December the archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn was in difficult financial straits and parish priests were being asked how they intended to rectify the position.

Bishop Power attributes in part the crisis in Australia to undermining of the Church by conservative Catholics reporting to Rome on more liberal developments.

Given the lack of reply to his letter to the Pope, Bishop Power said, ”They are amazingly well connected.” Their views were reflective of the extreme religious right prominent in the US.

Don’t worry, Your Grace, I am sure your formal letter to the Holy Father was forwarded to the Congregation for Bishops.  Even now it rests on a desk in that Congregation’s office for auxiliaries located on sublevel 2 next to the steam pipe trunk distribution venue.

I want to give shout out to the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, an outstanding group.  These are the sort of priests who would willingly work long after 75 years of age and die, as priests, with their boots on.

I’ll leave the combox open here, though it be parlous to do so.

Don’t be nasty or I’ll suspend your posting ability.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. The “powder-puff blue jumper” is a clerical shirt, no? I can see the white tab under his chin.

  2. Tradster says:

    Here’s a thought, Your Grace. Cease and renounce the liberal developments and perhaps the situation will no longer be parlous.

  3. skull kid says:

    You can tell a lot about the health of a diocese by looking at the colour of the bishop’s shirt, ranging from healthy black, to various shades of grey, to even blue or purple. Bue and purple, there is little hope, but dark grey and even the lighter shades, given sufficient nourishment with prayer, catechesis, and deep penance, amendment of life, and conversion, can be brought back into the healthy black.

    A priest once joked to me about grey shirts on priests, that really reflect a wishy washy theology… ain’t that the truth!

  4. skull kid says:

    blue, not bue…

  5. Legisperitus says:

    I love the bit about “reporting.” So everything he wants to advance in Australia must be kept hidden from Rome. Who’s really “undermining the Church”?

  6. MarkJ says:

    I was once told by a woman in the decimated diocese of Brussels, Belgium, that the sorry state of the Church there was due to people like me who wanted Tradition and Latin and such… seems like 40 years of liberalism wasn’t enough for her. At the end of our conversation, she finally admitted she had no need for the Pope. The Liberals always think they’re right, and if what they are trying isn’t working, it’s the opposition’s fault for standing in their way. Or their ideas haven’t been given enough time to work. Better dead than Trad… And as for Bishop Power who is feeling rather powerless at the moment, I say a hearty fair-thee-well, and now, if it is your wish, make way for your undoubtedly more conservative replacement. Brick by conservative brick…

  7. TNCath says:

    Let’s hope the Holy Father calls His Grace’s bluff, accepts his resignation, and says, “Buh, bye!” soon.

  8. FrCharles says:

    My Random House Unabridged (for my money–which isn’t saying much–the best English dictionary) lists “parlous” as archaic, and this edition is from 1967. I got it for $5, and with a pressed flower in it too.

  9. digdigby says:

    Sounds to me like he’s retiring early ‘in a snit’. As a matter of fact he sounds like what we used to call down South “an old maid in britches”.

  10. Flambeaux says:

    How sad. I’ll add this poor bishop to my prayers. So much sorrow; the absence of the theological virtues; how horrible to be in such despair while bearing the burdens that accompany Holy Orders.

  11. Glen M says:

    It’s bizarre how people either can’t see or choose to ignore the connection: the misinterpreted “spirit of Vatican II” has severely damaged the Church.

  12. scargo says:

    Political calculators….. we have enough already.

  13. jm says:

    “The second Vatican Council had given great hope and some wonderful things had happened”

    Always mystified by this vagueness. What has been wrong, and what was/needed change.

    Reminds me of Obama wanting to transform America. From and into what?

    Vagueness everywhere.

  14. Fabrizio says:


    according to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Updated in 2009:

    “Middle English, variant of perilous, perilous, from peril, peril; see peril.”

    “Middle English”?? Will someone PLEASE write an imaginary reply by the Pope a la Geoffrey Chaucer? Btw, do you say “ineffable” in Middle English?

  15. bgeorge77 says:

    I wish this Bishop a very happy retirement, filled with golf and relaxed days loafing around the house in slippers.

  16. Cavaliere says:

    Last May Bishop Power wrote an article calling for the Church to rethink its positions sexuality, celibacy and marriage and called on the ‘faithful’ to heed his call. I did, by sending him a very polite email to which he responded by thanking me for expressing my views but things were much more complex than I perceived them to be. I replied to his email with another very polite letter which was now rejected as SPAM by his email account. Now I’m not saying, just saying that sometimes what goes around…

    I was once told by a woman in the decimated diocese of Brussels, Belgium, that the sorry state of the Church there was due to people like me who wanted Tradition and Latin and such…

    I had the opportunity to live in the Brussels area in the late ’80’s while commuting to school at the Catholic U. at Louvain and although the Catholic population was over 90% it would be amazing if 20% actually went to Mass, even back then. This was a few years before I discovered the old rite of Mass and such, nor was I aware of any sentiment that the lack of attendance at Mass was due to a reaction against Tradition. To me it was more of the natural consequence of a watered down liberal Church where people figured, “why bother.”

  17. irishgirl says:

    Very sad that this Bishop feels this way.
    I’m with you, TNCath-let’s hope that the Holy Father calls the Bishop’s bluff and accepts his resignation. ‘Buh-bye’, indeed!

  18. Shakespeare uses “parlous” several times, so it’s a good fun word to use. Golden Age English mystery writers are fond of it, for example.

    Two years is a long time to be between bishops, but remember some of the dioceses in the US have had the same thing happen. Heck, remember poor Sioux Falls, which is a lot more beparished than New South Wales, and had no bishop for so long! Sometimes it just takes a while.

  19. meunke says:

    Perhaps someone needs to tell the good bishop that perhaps the very BEST thing that he could do for the diocese, the one thing that would do the most to strengthen it, bring people back to the Church and fill the pews… would be him becoming a saint.

    But I guess it’s easier to blame ‘the Vatican’ than to do that.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Cavaliere says:

    Last May Bishop Power wrote an article calling for the Church to rethink its positions sexuality, celibacy and marriage and called on the ‘faithful’ to heed his call. I did, by sending him a very polite email to which he responded by thanking me for expressing my views but things were much more complex than I perceived them to be.

    He’s right. Trying to fit Catholicism into the Zeitgeist is not only extraordinarily complex, it’s also impossible.

    I replied to his email with another very polite letter which was now rejected as SPAM by his email account. Now I’m not saying, just saying that sometimes what goes around…

    The good bishop seems a bit narrow.

  21. robtbrown says:

    meunke says:

    Perhaps someone needs to tell the good bishop that perhaps the very BEST thing that he could do for the diocese, the one thing that would do the most to strengthen it, bring people back to the Church and fill the pews… would be him becoming emeritus.


  22. Phil_NL says:

    Well, I think bp Power should be made a full bishop rather than an auxilliary one. I got just the diocese for him: the see of Cyrenensis is free, and instead of a titular one it should become an actual diocese. The bishop currently responsible for that geographical area, bp Margo, Apostolicus Vicariatus Berenicensis, would undoubtedly welcome a transfer to a less parlous posting, such as Canberra.

    (check the location if you don’t get my drift)

  23. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Retiring would show some measure of integrity. Far better to be out than to be a “defector in place,” a term which I’ve heard bandied about by women dissidents.

  24. disco says:

    Methinks the good bishop doth protest too much.

  25. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: I followed your link to the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. It looks likely that this group of faithful priests can provide an excellent new auxiliary bishop of Canberra when this resignation is accepted. So, perhaps no need for that office on sublevel 2 to dither over this one.

  26. Marc says:

    “Bishop Power attributes in part the crisis in Australia to undermining of the Church by conservative Catholics reporting to Rome on more liberal developments.”

    Is that is what is called a Episcopal temper tantrum? It reminds me of the kid in elementary school who took his ball and went home because no one was passing hm the ball enough.

  27. Marc says:

    correction: Is this an Episcopal temper tantrum?

  28. Ralph says:

    Perhaps Bishop he is only going to retire from his current office to allow himself the time to “go to the fields” with his over worked brothers? I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. He might have good intentions.

    Our diocese was served for many years by a retired Bishop from California (Bishop Quinn I believe) who spent his last years working with the Native Americans on the reservation. His was a working retirement in conditions that were less than ideal to say the least. He would also help our Bishop when needed for things like confirmation. He was a little on the liberal side, but seemed like a good man. I believe he has passed away. May he rest in peace. In the words for Father Z, it seems like this Bishop died with his boots on.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    And, when he resigns, the Church will pay for his retirement? I thought bishops were the servants of the servants of God? I shall pray for this man, who does not even see who has upheld him and paid for his opinions all these years-the People of God.

  30. chcrix says:

    “Bishop Power attributes in part the crisis in Australia to undermining of the Church by conservative Catholics reporting to Rome on more liberal developments.”

    Indeed. Our spies are everywhere. Nobody expects the Internet inquisition!

  31. Tim Ferguson says:

    As a layperson, I have a difficult time understanding big words like “parlous” and “ineffable,” but I have an even more difficult time understanding the motivation of people like His Excellency. There’s a clergy shortage, so, you’re thinking of retiring early? How is that even remotely logical.

    It seems to me to be more like “Things aren’t going my way, and so I’m going to pack up my toys and go home.” Of course, “going home” also means, I’m sure, drawing a pension check. It seems that Bishop Patrick Percival Power is one of those bishops consecrated in the 1970’s and 1980’s (1986, in fact), who has never moved up the ladder. I know little about ecclesiastical politics in Australia, but here, if someone is ordained an auxiliary bishop in his early 40’s and remains in that position until retirement, chances are he’s “not lived up to his full potential” as our grade school report cards in the 70’s would say.

  32. aladextra says:

    Although the color of the clerical shirt is a good indication of orthodoxy, for the truest measure, we would have to see the good bishop wield an aspergillium. I have observed that the greater the force with which the priest swings the aspergillium, the more traditional the cleric. One of my favorite priests began, perhaps unconsciously, to swing with even greater force as he began regularly saying the traditional Latin Mass. Now the most weak-kneed will avoid the aspergillium altogether, resorting to some soft and easy palm frond or such when the archaic ceremony of Holy Water distribution cannot be avoided altogether.

  33. Centristian says:

    I’m frankly amazed that the thoughts of an auxiliary bishop expressed in a letter would be considered newsworthy by any secular media outlet, to begin with. I wonder how many Catholics within any given diocese can even name their auxiliary bishops, much less find themselves attentive to any messages they might convey.

    I don’t mean to suggest that auxiliaries don’t matter or should be somehow undervalued because they’re just understudies to the ordinary, but, like vice presidents, they seldom make noise, and even when they do, nobody listens.

    I have always been fascinated by auxiliary bishops, although I’m not entirely sure why. I suppose they suggest to me the notion of an episcopal “Mini Me” for their ordinaries. And in the case of the auxiliary bishops I have known, at any rate, there are usually plenty of quirks associated with them.

    In my diocese, I have known three auxiliaries in my lifetime. One is active, one is retired, and one is deceased. Our retired auxiliary, Bishop Bernard McLaughlin, who was already ancient when I was a kid, is now the third oldest bishop in the United States. Our improbably-named deceased auxiliary, the late Pius A. Benincasa, was known as a bit of an eccentric insofar as he claimed a familial relationship to Catherine of Siena, and maintained a throne room for his own use in his residence. Our only active auxiliary is a very ethnically Polish man who is notoriously fond of dressing up like a cowboy when he’s off duty.

    I think alot of Catholics of the Vatican II era, such as the bishop featured in this article, got caught up in the spirit of the day, and interpreted Pope John’s “springtime” as an opportunity to push aside all the “hard” things about Christianity. Many seemed to forget, however, in their zeal for reform and “renewal”, that Christianity means the Cross. It is those very “hard” things define us, not the ways we come up with to get around them.

  34. DavidObeid says:

    Hi Fr. Z, I hope this doesn’t qualify as nasty, but sometimes some leeway can be given to those under stress. I have the misfortune of living in the Archdiocese where Bp Pat is auxiliary. If the Holy Father were to ask me, I’d happily word the response accepting Bp Pat’s early resignation.

  35. rakesvines says:

    St. John Bosco said that the Congregation would have achieved a great honor when one of it’s members died working for souls. Not to be unsympathetic to the plight of this bishop, but it comes with the territory – I think. St. John Bosco promised his ‘sons’, work, bread and Paradise. I think that holds true in the clerical vocation. ( If people wanted an easy life then they could have worked for the government instead and flee to the border when the going gets tough. But I digressed.) For more thoughts about St. John Bosco and the Salesians, come visit my site here or

  36. disco says:


    The byline for the article said the author was a religion correspndent. It was probably just a slow news day for religion down under. Not to mention the secular world loves to paint the catholic church as out of touch and a bishop giving soundbites to support that theory isn’t going to go on ignored.

  37. Tantum Ergo says:

    PARLOUS: “Middle English, variant of perilous, perilous, from peril, peril; see peril.”
    Middle English was the dialect of Middle Earth, particularly the Shire. Many of our commonly used words in modern English derive from Middle English origin, as in “elephant” from “olifant.”

  38. disco says:

    I should say secular media not secular world my bad

  39. ChadS says:

    @Fabrizio, I’m not sure “ineffable” could be said in Middle English. According to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary the use of ineffable in English occurred in 1450. The spelling then as it is now is the same. It appears to be a word that made its way from Latin to French and finally to English.

  40. asperges says:

    I think it is unwise for a Bishop to go public on his disillusion. [Exactly why I posted this.] It won’t “encourager les autres” much. [Keep in mind that that quote applies to a very different scenario!] I feel sorry for those like him who imagined some new promised land springing out of Vatican II. They imagined a Church unrecognisable to what – thank God – we still have. One hears from time to time weary clergy of his age and outlook opining in similar fashion.

    Those of us who until recently were considered too traditional and on the margins of the promised New Age and entirely out of tune with the Mind of the Church perhaps feel rather more heartened these days. Let us face facts: we were all misled to some extent – it doesn’t matter exactly whose fault it was – and the last 40 years have not been easy.

    The parlous state of Church (a perfectly usual use of the word BTW in these parts and Australia) is receding and improving. Let us pray it will in charity have enough room in it for all the faithful – even the disillusioned for whom we should certainly be praying. After all, we know from experience how they feel.

  41. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    Relax friends, this is just routine Bp. Pat Power output, though the letter to the Holy Father is a novel twist. His Lordship (form of title used in Australia,N.Z. and U.K .) is a media darling down here – always good for something of an outrageous quote.He is actually a pleasant enough fellow, modest in manner – just not as Catholic as the Church. Tim Ferguson has shone the light brightly on His Lordship’s lack of logic. Faithful Catholics would be happy to pay his pension in retirement – as long as he kept QUIET. As for the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, His Lordship would well know that there has been a well publicised consultation about the possibility of it being merged with an adjoining Diocese but Bathurst is the one mostly spoken of. As for Diocesan finances in these areas, as far as there are problems, His Lordship well knows that 10 YEARS of drought have done terrible harm to these rural areas and this has been followed by months of flooding rains! What would one expect but financial troubles. Go away Bp Pat and leave the good shepherds to get on with the job. The ACCC is a fertile field for Bishop selection – I know it and very many of its members well.

  42. Tim Ferguson says:

    Perhaps the solution to intrasigent auxiliary bishops is, rather than allow them retirement, revoke their status as “titular” bishops, and then enforce the law on a bishop residing in his see. Give them a tent and a camel and send them to the North African desert.

  43. Tantum Ergo says:

    asperges says:
    “I feel sorry for those like him who imagined some new promised land springing out of Vatican II”

    Sometimes when the grass looks greener on the other side of the hill, it turns out to be astroturf.

  44. Agnes of Prague says:

    Tim Ferguson said “As a layperson, I have a difficult time understanding big words like “parlous” and “ineffable,” but I have an even more difficult time understanding the motivation of people like His Excellency. There’s a clergy shortage, so, you’re thinking of retiring early? How is that even remotely logical. “>


  45. david andrew says:

    Here’s your hat (civilian hat, not mitre or biretta), what’s your hurry?

  46. kallman says:

    This is usual behaviour for Bp Power. There are some who may welcome his retirement. He did not attend the ordination of two FSSP priests in his own diocese.

  47. pjthom81 says:

    And another Liberal surrenders, and the ongoing transition continues. The transition seems to be from a leadership that is Catholic but has Liberal tendencies to those who are Conservative. For purposes of what I am writing “Liberal” means the group that wishes Catholicsm divorced from the public sphere and “Conservative” means those who want the Church to have an active voice. On the ground this looks like a transition from leadership that seems wishy-washy as to their faith to those who are fervent.

    Odd twist Vatican II had ultimately. There were Liberals and Conservatives comfortably in the Church up until the Council. The result had been a Church that has been largely passive when it comes to pressing her agenda: a kinda “Leave me Alone” stance. Somehow the effects of the Council seem to have been to delude the Liberals into giving up on the tenants of Catholicism. This in turn seems to have two effects: (1) Catholics become increasingly conservative, meaning activist, in outlook, and this is now being reflected in the Bishops and (2) Liberal Catholics become increasingly secular in their outlook and less and less comfortable with their faith, passive or no.

    We are now in the 4th decade of this transition, and I think that the past 4 decades have certainly been a transitional time. Its just taken a while for the Conservatives to rise to the leadership as they have slowly become the majority of Mass attendees.

    Its quite possible that the net effect of Vatican II in the long run will be to make the Catholic Church more activist, but no less Traditional. Ironic isn’t it?

  48. JARay says:

    Vexilla Regis has put it in a nutshell. Bishop Pat Power’s Catholicism has always been somewhat suspect. It would be a good thing for him to resign and to depart to a quiet location where he can add to the quietness by keeping his mouth shut.
    Just by the way, I have never had any trouble with “parlous” or “ineffable”. I have used these words all my life. One of the meanings of “parlous” is “difficult to control”. One might well describe the situation in Libya as parlous. And yes, I am a supporter of the ACCC and I receive copies of “The Priest” although I am a layman.

  49. jflare says:

    Why do people insist that everyone should be “open-minded”, but when we dare to be genuinely open-minded, the conversation ends?

    During my teens, being “open-minded” appeared to me to mean that, if we had any concerns about something new, we should ignore them. We should eject the old like yesterdays laundry water and celebrate..well, I’m not sure I always knew precisely what we intended to celebrate actually. Girl power? Women power? African-American or Hispanic power? Gender “equality”?
    I look back on my teens and early 20’s; I hope that the Church and society aren’t quite as dorked up with “multiculturalism” as I experienced it. I regret society has grown worse if, anything, while the Church likely hasn’t improved. ..And we wonder why kids are depressed and suffering?

    Of course, in various conversations I’ve had with my father, he makes it quite plain that the Church tended toward being rigid in many matters, especially the Mass.
    ‘Twould seem to me we’ve replaced the rigidity opposed to anything new with..severe rigidity against anything older than 1970. Rather than being unable to try anything new, we require a near act of God to even admit that the “old” ever existed.

    Honestly, I’m rather weary of the battle; I have been weary of the bickering and arguing since my late teens. That was 20 years ago.

    I’m a lay man. I grew up within the Catholic faith, but my formal, post-secondary education lies in physical or natural science, not theology and the how’s and why’s of the Mass or the faith. I’m not stupid, but I’m not “versed” in the rationale for why we do “this” at “this time” during Mass, as opposed to “that”. From some commentaries I’ve read recently, I gather there’s some speculation that we might move the Kiss of Peace to another part of the Mass. ..And someone else is grousing to high heaven about it….

    Is it really that hard for the average priest and layman to simply follow the rules and pray?

    I’m tired of hearing from some 3,000 wannabe popes regarding what I should think, believe, or do, especially at Mass.

    Just do as Fr Z says: SAY the Black, DO the Red.

    Thank you!

  50. jbosco88 says:

    Reason #4568980 for Romanarium Coetibus to be released by Rowan Williams. I hear there’s a few vacant sees in England.

  51. Deesis says:

    For those of you who do not know Bishop Pat Power he is a prochoice, pro womens “ordination” and anti anything mainstream Catholic. As a bishop he is a joke and a scandal. His being appointed bishop was done during the time of Archbishop Carroll who was himself liberal. Many of these have been righly sidelined and many including Father Brian Lucas have been overlooked for long expected episcopal promotion.
    Time is taking away these 1970’s hippies who have done so much damage to the foundations of the Church from WITHIN while feigning loyalty to Christ and his Church!

  52. PostCatholic says:

    Has no one anything positive to say about the man?

    I don’t really care, to be honest, if he’s liberal or conservative or right or left in his views of Catholicism, because as a non-believer I think that’s a bit worrying about the difference between Oriental and Vermont Avenues on a Monopoly board. But the post and the comments here do seem like a pretty angry epitaph on a clergyman’s career. A wise Palestinian once had something to say about seed being scattered on worthy ground; I think he made a good point about being careful about what is cultivated in the heart.

  53. kallman says:

    The wackiest part of the article was not shown, it says:

    “Bishop Power attributes in part the crisis in Australia to undermining of the Church by conservative Catholics reporting to Rome on more liberal developments.
    Given the lack of reply to his letter to the Pope, Bishop Power said, ”They are amazingly well connected.” Their views were reflective of the extreme religious right prominent in the US”.

    Sounds like he IS receiving letters from the Curia, but not the sort he would like!

  54. Mary G says:

    Maybe not a good idea to retire just yet. Bishop Power would then have plenty of time to write more letters. Might even write a book – as has happened before.

  55. xavier217 says:

    Frankly, when I read about this kind of whinging at the same time I see stories of freshly-martyred Christians, I can’t help but become a little sick to my stomach.

  56. Aethelfrith says:

    As an Australian, and a Canberran, too, I was astonished to see the fuss over the word “parlous”. Archaic? My foot! I grew up with the word. Just to check that I’m not an outlier on the normal distribution curve, however, I referred to the Macquarie Dictionary of contemporary Australian English and, lo and behold, it’s not archaic here.

    Does this mean that Australian English preserves a remnent of Middle English? Surely not, as the settlers were too late for that. Perhaps the word was resurrected, as it were, from literary sources in a distinctly Australian context? Or peradventure (that really is an archaism!), the word survived well in to Modern English without the necessary literary references for the OED’s editors?

  57. jflare says:

    (BTW, does “post” mean that you have some Catholic background? If so, why not now?)
    If we aren’t all roses, peaches, and cream with regard to this bishop, well, unfortunately, his career appears to have earned it. I can’t speak for others, but this bishop seems to propose the same old song and dance that I’ve grown weary of hearing. I regret, whole volumes of what I’ve learned regarding my Catholic faith..didn’t happen due to any particular effort by any Catholic pastor or lay assistant. Most of what I’ve learned has come about by happenstance, trial, error, and–dare I say this–dumb curiousity.

    Even now, I can’t comprehend why, at a Catholic high school in a fairly conservative portion of the United States, I didn’t hear a word about Gregorian Chant, I never heard anyone propose a Rosary, had never heard of the Tridentine Liturgy, and had no clue what “ad orientem” or “versus populum” meant. Nor had I heard those terms.
    I remember we aimed to “celebrate being young, energetic, and passionate”. How’re we intended to do that when we don’t even know the basics of our faith enough to know how to direct that youthful energy and passion?

    If our prickly frame of mind makes no sense still, keep in mind that your Monopoly analogy doesn’t hold up too well, at least not for my thinking.

    I’d say that school and Mass probably taught me the faith for use with a Chevrolet.
    I’ve discovered in life that I need knowledge intense enough to drive the Cadillac every day, lest I get steamrolled.

  58. DetJohn says:

    It looks as if Bishop Power is the Bishop Gumbleton of Australia.

  59. samgr says:

    “Parlous times” has been a favorite cliche of political and foreign-affairs typists ever since (and probably before) 1900, when David Dwight Wells published a book called Parlous Times: A Novel of Diplomacy.

  60. samgr says:

    Sorry, that’s Parlous Times: A Novel of MODERN Diplomacy.

  61. Stvsmith2009 says:

    parlous – 1. dangerous: very unsafe, uncertain, or difficult (archaic or humorous) “Thou art in a parlous state, shepherd.” William Shakespeare As You Like It 1599
    2. crafty: mischievous, devious, or cunning (archaic)
    very: used to emphasize the extreme or excessive nature of something (archaic)
    It struck me funny about the Bishops comments regarding “conservative” Catholics reporting to Rome. My friend in Australia told me that she was once asked by her priest to “spy” on those in her parish he thought were conservative and reporting to Rome. She refused. This same priest later announced at a meeting of the liturgy committee that they would be saying an our mother at Mass instead of the Our Father. That was when my friend informed him in front of the committee that she would be sure to inform the Archbishop, and on up the line to Rome if necessary. She did contact the Archbishop’s office and wonder of wonders…. the Our Father was said instead of the heretical “prayer”.

    Very parlous indeed!

  62. tperegrinus says:

    Interesting fact is that Bishop Power used to say the Old Mass for us when our chaplain was away. I think I even served for him.

  63. Gail F says:

    I was disappointed the author didn’t throw in something about Peter’s “siege perilous” or, my favorite, the “perilous bed” Gawain had to lay down in while it whired around a room and swords were flying through the air.

    I guess he thought “parlous” fit the Church because it is arcane and nobody knows what it means…

    I have nothing to say about the sad state of Australia. But I’m sure many priests and bishops are disappointed that things didn’t turn out the way they wanted them to… welcome to the human condition.

  64. RichardT says:

    “Parlous state” is a fairly common journalistic cliche in England, particularly amongst those who write letters to local newspapers.

    A quick search found that it appeared on the internet 486 times in the last month alone in the UK, with the first ten search results including local newspapers in Cumberland (headline, “Parlous state of Carlisle’s historic walls”), North London (” I write in despair about the parlous state of roads in Islington”), Berkshire (“The pub industry is in a parlous state”) and Dundee (“the parlous state of the finances” of a local church).

    Usage of parlous is not in a parlous state here. Good writers tend to avoid it, but because it is regarded as an over-used cliche rather than because it is obsolete,

  65. Scott W. says:

    Progressivism is like a quack doctor: their very survival depends on sheer chutzpah and never EVER admitting that their cures are the problem. “The patient died from my bleeding him?! Nonsense! Obviously you didn’t bleed him enough!”

  66. PostCatholic says:


    You’re correct, I am a former Catholic seminarian. That will be the last word on my religious biography; I’m pretty sure Rev. Zuhlsdorf doesn’t want me to derail the conversation in that direction, either. I’ll return to my point about the post and the comments on it: I do think anger going on over here is a bit over the top. Wouldn’t it be kinder and more loving to hope for a change of heart?

  67. DavidObeid says:

    There are loads of good priests in Australia who would make excellent episcopal candidates. Sadly, there’s someone high up “on the inside” who is blocking the progress of these good men to the episcopate.

    I suspect His Holiness is awake to the problem “blocker”, but as he doesn’t make a habit of dropping me frequent text messages we’ll have to wait, watch and see.

  68. Toan says:

    Interesting he should use the word, “narrow”. I remember that term being applied to a certain road that leads to salvation…hmm…

  69. jflare says:

    Good Evening,
    So, PostCatholic, if I understand correctly, you’re wondering why people aren’t openly seeking the best of this bishop? Theoretically, by finding the best, we recognize the dignity of a Child of God, thus encouraging repentance and a return to greater virtue in thought and actions?

    I don’t deny the good of this, but I wonder whether this approach always provokes the best from people? Too often these past 40 years, we’ve ignored vice in the name of “seeking the best” of a person. Being compassionate doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge the ugliness of sin. That’s important to remember for the average person on the street.

    Keep in mind though, we’re dealing with a BISHOP in this case, not merely the average Australian. By virtue of his ordination and consecration, he’s still quite human, but he’s also qualitatively different from you or me. If he, you, and I err regarding Church teachings, we inflict scandal upon the Church and Christ, but he inflicts more than do you or I. (Fr Z or someone, if I’m wrong on that, feel free to correct me….)

    For a rough analogy, consider my former military career. I received my commission appropriately and acted as an officer in the manner I felt most needed. In this sense, my service to the country was valid and honorable. I have no serious regrets regarding anything I did.
    Even so, I regret many things that I DIDN’T do, or that I would’ve done differently, had I understood some things rather differently. I made many mistakes, some due to lack of mentorship from superior-ranking officers, some due to my own pride. Unfortunately, this DOES mean that, from the view of several superiors, I wasn’t much of an officer. I “filled in the blocks” as required, but I didn’t precisely seek to lead any unit toward achieving the goals that superiors had set. Some of this might be mitigated by senior officers’..failure to properly communicate well, but I still spent too much time complaining about policies I didn’t like.

    Also, consider that, even if I never participated in any battle–I never killed anyone nor directed others in doing so–I also didn’t precisely further the Kingdom of God outside of awfully equivocal rationale. So again, even if I never intended malice towards others, neither did I properly encourage others towards Truth. Over the course of 10 years, that helped persuade me to leave the service.

    I think many of us understand this bishop’s efforts in much the same way. While he doesn’t appear to have openly and intentionally defied the Church–some of his traditionalist “opponents” have–neither does he appear to have been as vigorous and determined in promoting and defending the faith as he could’ve been.

    Much like a soldier who deserts on a battlefield inflicts harm, but a general inflicts far greater harm if he defects, so too does a bishop inflict greater harm on the Church by neglect of his true duties as a bishop.

    And, just to add some fuel to this thought, many were downright horrified by various things that our late Pope did in the name of seeing the best in others. I understand why he did them and I’m not as enraged, but I keep thinking that I might’ve been quite infuriated by many things had I witnessed them firsthand and understood them from a more traditional viewpoint.
    (Certainly, I’m still rather wary of World Youth Day, precisely because I’d like to see a rather more traditional approach to catechesis…..)

    Concluding, I honestly don’t see a great deal of anger here that’s not reasonably justified. If His Excellency has, indeed, been an advocate for women’s ordination (directly contrary to Church teaching) and so forth, I’d say the anger is..well, relatively tame, to be honest.
    I’ve seen FAR worse before.

  70. PostCatholic says:

    “he’s also qualitatively different from you or me.”

    I don’t agree, but I accept that Catholicism posits otherwise. To me, he’s just another old man who’s given his life to a religious career and achieved at some point a position of some success. Therefore I can’t accede to the rest of your argument. [In this context, this blog, the Catholic teaching (ontological change to the soul of a man who is ordained to Holy Orders) trumps all. That doesn’t mean that the one ordained isn’t a scrub.]

  71. PostCatholic says:

    As you know, Rev. Zuhlsdorf, I’m versed in the theology of Holy Orders because I seriously pursued that state earlier in life for a period of several years. I understand his (her?) point and s/he made it very well but as I said to jflare, I don’t ascribe to it personally. No offense to your beliefs is intended, which is why I didn’t go further.

    What does concern me is that you are discussing a man obviously at the end of his career, whether premature or not, and some measure of respect for the effort is due even to your opponents. In seminary I used to hear a lot of lectures on the topic of collegiality. I just feel you might have been a bit more charitable in your rebuke, and that a good deal of the commentary here is born of anger–which of course is the fourth deadly sin, if I remember the order right.

  72. jflare says:

    Good Morning,
    PostCatholic, honestly I’m not sure what to think about your comments. You seem..self-contradictory. Actually, having contemplated your statements for a while, I will say that you sound quite confused, not sure what TO believe, nor why or if you should believe something definite.
    Unfortunately, that’s a common frame of mind these days. Too many people either don’t know what the Church truly teaches–or why–or dread facing the full consequences of what some of the Church’s teachings imply. It’s a difficult state of being. I’ve been there!

    It appears to me as though something about the Church..has struck a discordant note somehow. Perhaps it’d be helpful to seek spiritual guidance from someone you trust? Maybe you have some concern(s) that you need help handling? I don’t know, I’m just guessing here.

    Something else to think about: Would you agree that certain televangelists brought about grave scandal by their improprieties during the late 80’s and early 90’s?

    Seems to me that, even if you don’t view Holy Orders as having a fundamental impact on a person’s soul, surely you’d agree that contradicting the teachings of one’s own Church in public is pretty bad behavior, regardless of denomination?

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