Friday, 6 May 2011

The Vatican Mafia

I took to the streets on Tuesday - for the first time in over thirty years.
Those marching in the dark carrying candles with me were solidly middle-class, of all ages and both genders, and there wasn't a caftan or a set of dreadlocks to be seen. Twinsets and brollys were the go. We marched in total silence - no slogans.

We were marching to protest the removal of Bishop Bill Morris from the Toowoomba diocese. Technically, he wasn't removed, but asked to take early retirement.

Even my bride of thirty-four years was marching. She reminded me that the last time we took to the streets together was to protest the demolition of the Belle Vue Hotel by the Bjelke Petersen government in 1979. My wife became a Catholic when she married me. For the first time in my life, I feel embarrassed for being a Catholic. The church has betrayed her.

The activity was billed as a vigil, but everyone I spoke to regarded it as a protest march. There were about 500 people marching from the Bishop’s house to the Cathedral, and a further 500 at the Cathedral. On a wet and cold evening in Toowoomba, that’s a big turnout.

I’m a Catholic – but as an old mate from Longreach once said I’m not a fanatic.

But I take great exception to a few disgruntled “Catholics” who sneak about at the back of the church and make complaints to the Holy See. In the parishes these people are called the “Temple Police”.

They get their knickers in a knot if the wrong composition of altar candle wax is used, or if the priest allows a woman to deliver a homily. They get their jollies by dobbing the already overworked clergy in to the Pope for minor demeanours. They have a hotline to the Holy See, bypassing the local hierarchy.

I kid you not.

They are part of a number of organisations including CUF, most of which are the public face of a Mafia which has become very powerful since the advent of the current pope.

They operate in exactly the same way as the Mafia in that they observe strict secrecy and are embedded in parishes, but never really become part of parish life in any meaningful way. Nobody in the parishes knows who they are – they’re a kind of secret police.

They are collectively a bunch of very sad people.

The complaint against Bishop Bill Morris was that he issued a letter on 2006 canvassing the very real problem that the church has with a decline in the number of priests. This diocese extends west to the territory border and south to NSW. It’s one of the largest in the country. He suggested that the ordination of women and people already married should be considered. He didn’t advocate this – just put it out there as a discussion point. At least this is the reason put forward for his dismissal. Nobody has seen anything in print from the Vatican explaining what their objections to his activity.

Bill Morris was a great pastor. He didn’t wear a collar, and was only seen in his bishop’s regalia when it was absolutely necessary. He was more comfortable in shirtsleeves on the ground with his parishioners. This low-key approach may have been part of the church’s discomfort. He is the only bishop I have seen darken the door of a special school. He had a genuine concern for people with disabilities, as he did for all marginalised and powerless people.

The Ecclesiastical response to this phenomenon is symptomatic of an institutional malaise which is progressively destroying the Australian church.

The Catholic Church is vibrant and growing in countries where it supports progressive social justice causes. It is stagnant or in decline in countries where it aligns with the conservative clerical establishment.

If Cardinal George Pell has any courage and integrity he will intercede with the Vatican. Given Pell’s track record, I doubt we’ll see any action taken. Maybe Tim Fischer could be prevailed upon to intercede. As a Nasho and a Vietnam Vet he may recall this kind of church activity. There was no hierarchical interference back then. The army used to tell the church hierarchy to butt out.

There is enormous irony in the fact that the advocacy of the previous Pope (John-Paul II) was influential in the collapse of the Communist regime in Poland, but his successor Benedict 16 has a regressive approach to liberation theology.

These Temple Police are spiritual cowards - they need to get a life. If they were Muslims they'd be advocating Sharia.

This action drives a wedge between my catholic faith and the institutional church. There are many angry and confused Catholics in this diocese.

So what to do?

I’ve been talking to a local solicitor, a very aggrieved Catholic, who is researching a class action. My notion is to play the Temple Police at their own game, and send a complaint to the Vatican.

This complaint will be bit different; it will have thousands of signatures – rather than one or two.

(The pics of the candlelight vigil were taken on my iPhone. Here is a report from the local rag. As pointed out above, there were also a further 500 at the church.)

Sent from my iPad

Monday, 2 May 2011

David Hack Meet

This meet was held yesterday, and I went along equipped with a marquee and chairs in the hope that members of the local MX5 chapter would turn up. They didn't, which probably had something to do with the fact that I didn't let them know.

This meant that I had plenty of time for photography, although I'd left my camera at home and had to make do with my iPhone. The quality of shots is therefore somewhat limited.

I concentrated on the weird and quirky.

This Renault 750 is indeed "not 750". It is in fact a 1600, with a worked Gordini motor stuffed into the rear end. It must be interesting on a wet road. I've been fascinated by these things since being whisked through Saigon traffic in a 750 taxi in 1970.

The exhaust plumbing is amazing.

This 1952 Cadilac was impressive. It must weigh about two metric tonnes, and provides an example of automotive opulence that we will never see again. It had tinted glass and a telescopic radio antenna, both ground-breaking in the day.

This beautiful Morris 6 was parked behind my car, and I had a yarn to its owner. He told me that it was assembled in Brisbane by a company called Charles Hope that made refrigerators. I remember my parents owning a Charles Hope kero fridge when I was a kid in the fifties. This particular car participated in a couple of royal tours back in the thirties although it was black back then..

There were a number of military vehicles on display. This is a 6X6 Studebaker. Again, I remember seeing them in Saigon.

As a twelve year old I used to muck about on my uncle's cane farm west of Mackay. He had one of these, an Armstrong-Siddeley ute which he used an unregistered farm runabout. He was mad enough to let me drive it, and I learnt a lot about basic car management behind the wheel of this thing.

 I never put a mark on it - lucky I guess.

There were the regulation MGBs. This is a very tidy example.

A straight eight Packard was displayed - purple in colour.

These Volkswagen Country Buggies were sold in 1968. They were a very useful vehicle, but Volkswagen Australia was in financial trouble at the time and production was curtailed.

There was an Antonov 2 giving joy-rides for $80 a throw. It was flying all day. These are a mad Russian aircraft that have been in production since 1947, although this one was made in Poland. They need about 200metres to take off.
The photo is pretty dreadful (the iPhone doesn't zoom well), so here is a link to a video.

Update -
Just for Cav - some Fords.
This one is fairly typical of the marque....

There  were lots of GT40s... Apparently they're Fords.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

A Pinch of Common Sense

Courtesy I found this posted in Facebook a few weeks ago, when the faux outrage about mandated vaccination first began to ...