A number of people wrote last month to comment on Fr Eddie Condra’s article on the advent of a new priesthood, which was published in the October and November issues of Wel-com.
Some expressed dismay that such views should be aired in a Catholic newspaper. Others thought Eddie’s article was thought-provoking.
While I have absolutely no intention of offending anyone, or of misrepresenting the goals of the archdiocese or the teachings of the Church, I must say that it is the nature of any newspaper to present a variety of articles and views. Readers are different and have varied perspectives on life and on the gospel. What resonates with one person may be anathema to another. We each have the right to find our own way to the message of the good news of the gospels, guided by the teachings of the Church.
This is why I was quite shocked when the parish priest at St Mary of the Angels returned the parish’s bundle of Wel-com newspapers saying, in an accompanying letter to Archbishop John Dew, that, in his pastoral judgment, the newspaper ‘was not fit to distribute’.
‘Eddie Condra’s second article is subversive of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the nature of the priesthood – both the priesthood of the laity, and the ordained ministry.
‘At a time when the Archdiocese is wrestling with the issue of the looming shortage of priests, and when you are yourself so forthrightly reminding us of the importance of the ordained ministry for Eucharist, Eddie’s article can do no good. It can only do harm.’
This is one view. But there are others.
One correspondent, Ron Sharp of Riwaka, wrote of his anticipation of reading Wel-com.
Every Thursday evening the local community newspaper arrives and I always set some time aside to read it. It is simulating with the usual reporting of events that have occurred and are to come. Welcom on the other hand would sit in my in tray for some time, before I’d get around to reading it. But recently I have found myself hurrying home to read Welcom. I wondered why? In our local community paper I find articles on local events, alright, but I also find articles on the issues facing our district: the closure of a long standing hotel, the results of a survey on using txt in NCEA exams, a peace celebration held at Riverside Community, the new ‘red’ cloth covering being spread over large areas of apple-growing land and even an essay questioning the idea of Darwin’s natural selection and its implication that everything is all about competition and strife instead of cooperation. The latter could have been a subject for a sermon. In this case people were being invited to come and discuss the issue.
I realised that the reason for my new interest in Welcom was because it was starting to deal with the issues facing Catholic growth. Just as our community grows through change and pain, so our Church needs to grow through taking up its cross of change. The articles in Issue 234 on environmental justice, just money, Parihaka instead of Guy Fawkes celebrations and advent of a new priesthood are what is making me look forward to Welcom because they stimulate my growth and hope for the future.
Another correspondent wrote that some negative responses come from ‘just the normal pain of the slow pace of change in institutions’.
Timothy Radcliffe, the former head of the Dominican order, said in this newspaper last year that it is the questions that bring us together. Someone else has written of finding God in the messiness of life.
Somewhere along the way I hope that readers of Wel-com are stimulated to question the views they read alongside their own responses and to look again through the messiness of life in our quest to bring about the reign of God.