Archbishop Mark Coleridge is the head honcho of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
That basically makes him the top dog within the Church in Australia.
And he just said this with, I’m sure, a pleasant smiley face:
I think we have to accept the fact that Christendom is over – by which I mean mass, civic Christianity. It’s over.
If the PM said Australia was over, he’d be replaced.
If the CEO of BHP said mining was over, there’d be a shareholder revolt and he’d be out the door.
If the AFL boss said AFL was over, there’d be riots and rogue footy matches played in the streets. And the ex-AFL boss would need a new job.
In any other business, these kind of words from this kind of leader would constitute an admission of failure. Miserable, hopeless, losery failure of the greatest kind.
But Coleridge isn’t in just any other business. He claims to be a prince of a divine organisation, backed by God Himself, which teaches that every nation has a duty to recognise Christ as King.
Whatever that looks like, it involves mass, civic Christianity.
Archbishop Coleridge’s claim that mass, civic Christianity is over is an admission that he’s botched his job. In business-speak, he’s missed his KPIs. And implicit within his lament is a complete loss of confidence in the power of God.
The only honourable path left open for Coleridge is to man up and admit that this occurred on his watch, under his command and while he was in charge.
And then he should resign.
I, for one, don’t believe that mass, civic Christianity is over. Quite the opposite. I believe that without mass, civic Christianity civilisation itself is over.
Sure enough, there are tough times for Christians ahead. Already you can lose your job for quoting the Bible. You can have your assets drained by anti-Catholic activists who deliberately use anti-discrimination law to vexatiously pursue you.
We’ve even had an Australian judge admit that he was under pressure to send men to jail because they are priests (and they are not my words but came from the judge’s own lips).
If Labor and the Greens gain control of parliament, it is likely that Catholic schools will not be able to teach the faith. Catholic bishops will be prevented from instructing at the pulpit. And Catholic parents could even lose their kids to gender-whisperers.
I greatly fear that within a generation Catholics will be imprisoned or executed. In Australia. For the crime of being Catholic.
There are dark clouds on the horizon.
That does not mean mass, civic Christianity is over. It just means that if we are to prevent this then we need to defend mass, civic Christianity more than ever.
Archbishop Coleridge is not doing that. Instead he’s waving the white flag.
And there is no greater proof of that than this: we are now in the 36th day of the Israel Folau frenzy which has gripped this nation since 10 April and Archbishop Coleridge has not uttered a single word on the issue in public.
Yet this is an issue that affects every lay Catholic. It is now clear that their livelihoods – their abilities to feed their families, pay their mortgages and raise their children – can be destroyed for their Catholic faith.
If Coleridge and his fellow bishops really cared about their flock they would be up in arms. But they aren’t.
If self-interest is buying silence from the bishops, it’s a doomed strategy. Just how long do you think they’ll be able to keep their titles and castles after they’ve sold out the faithful?
If mass, civic Christianity is over it’s got less to do with the Raelene Castles of this world and more to do with the fact that Catholic bishops have been too cowardly to speak about issues like the Folau saga for far too long.
And speak up they should: after all, sacking a rugby player for quoting the Bible is about as great an attack on mass, civic Christianity as you can get without bringing out the guillotines.
They aren’t far away. Liberty, fraternity and equality has been dusted off and modernised for our times: equality, diversity and tolerance. And the mob is gearing up its brutal intolerance against all who stand in its way.
Unfortunately, we’ve heard more about hell from Bill Shorten in the last month than we have from our Church leaders. And Shorten doesn’t even believe in hell.
This is the heart of the revolution. Our politicians are assuming the role of pope and our bishops are dealing with these issues like politicians.
Only the bishops can restore order and they can only do this by speaking bravely to defend and promote mass, civic Christianity.
Coleridge has given up on that. Unless another bishop steps up to the plate like a man, those dark storm clouds will only grow.