Home' Greymouth Star : March 15th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
In the year since his surprise
election, Pope Francis has raised so
many hopes of imminent changes
in Church teaching that managing
all those expectations is going to
be a challenge.
e Argentine-born ponti has caught
world attention by suggesting he might
ease the Catholic Church's strict rules on
divorce, birth control, married or women
priests and gay unions.
O -the-cu comments such as "who am
I to judge?" about gays has contrasted with
the more distant style of his predecessors
John Paul and Benedict.
But while his words and public
appearances have struck a chord with
many Catholics, anyone hoping for a quick
turnaround on those headline-grabbers
is likely to be disappointed, said Boston
College theologian Richard Gaillardetz.
" ere is a critical mass of Catholics who
want change," said Gaillardetz, president
of the Catholic eological Society of
America. "In the minds of many people,
substantial change has to mean change on
what I call the hot button troika --- birth
control, women's ordination and same-sex
" is Pope has undertaken very
substantial change, but it is not necessarily
going to focus on speci c doctrines," he
Instead, say Gaillardetz and others,
Francis seeks a deeper shift in the Church
to become what he calls a " eld hospital"
serving the needs of the faithful rather
than an inward-looking institution
more concerned with its own rules and
Either way, he seems be facing the
religious version of what political scientists
call a "revolution of rising expectations",
the moment when people think their
distant leaders are listening to them and
start to ratchet up their demands for
Older Catholics remember when
expectations of a Vatican approval for
contraception soared in the 1960s, only to
be dashed in 1968 when Pope Paul VI's
encyclical Humanae Vitae surprised many
churchgoers by upholding the traditional
Many believers deserted the pews and
priests quit the clergy. Large numbers of
those who stayed began simply to ignore
Vatican teaching on sex.
Francis gently pushed back last week
at expectations of rapid change, telling
an interviewer he was not "a kind of
superman or a star" but just "a normal
"It's not a question of changing the
doctrine but going deeper so that pastoral
concern takes into account situations and
what can be done for people," he added.
e international reform group We Are
Church has said it is worried reforms were
being held up by "strong resistance in the
power structure". It also asked Rome to
rehabilitate liberal priests and theologians
disciplined in recent decades.
ese demands are coming to the fore
now because Francis has encouraged
Catholics to discuss sensitive issues
more openly and even sent out an
unprecedented sur vey to hear their views.
"He has basically reopened a debate
that was shut down during the previous
two ponti cates," said Italian theologian
Massimo Faggioli, a historian of the
1962-65 Second Vatican Council that
launched reforms Francis wants to revive.
Sur vey results published in Europe
showed how large a gap exists between
Church teaching and Catholics' lives.
"Church statements on premarital sexual
relations, homosexuality, on those divorced
and remarried, and on birth control ... are
virtually never accepted, or are expressly
rejected in the vast majority of cases," the
German bishops conference said in its
blunt report to the Vatican.
It said many do not understand the
rule that divorced Catholics cannot
remarry in church and must be denied the
sacraments if they opt for a civil ceremony.
Many churchgoers see this as "unjusti ed
discrimination and ... merciless."
But it also said most Catholics upheld
the ideal of lifelong faithful heterosexual
marriage and opposed abortion.
A poll from the Pew Research Centre
in Washington last week showed Francis
was "immensely popular among American
Catholics" but many still di ered with
some Vatican teachings.
"Large majorities of Catholics say the
Church should allow Catholics to use
birth control (77%), allow priests to get
married (72%) and ordain women as
priests (68%)," the Pew report said.
But the concerns recorded in
Washington are not universal. Roman
Catholicism, by far the world's largest
Christian church, has everyone from
western professionals to African peasants
among its 1.2 billion members.
"In this global church, there are di erent
expectations in di erent places," noted
Faggioli, who teaches at the University of
St omas in Minnesota.
Catholics in Africa, where the Church
is growing rapidly, have more traditional
views about women's roles. Many priests
there are concerned that looser divorce
rules would undercut their decades-long
preaching against polygamy.
Homosexual sex is illegal in 37 countries
in Africa and Catholic and Protestant
clergy say the new acceptance of gays in
western churches makes them less credible
than Muslim preachers who say their
whole faith condemns homosexuality.
Gaillardetz said the big change Francis
wants is to spread a new interpretation
of the Second Vatican Council, which set
out to turn the tightly hierarchical Church
into a more horizontal structure sharing
responsibility and power between Rome
and national churches and between clergy
" is will ultimately have widespread
consequences, but they are not the kind
that happen one year in," he said.
Impatient critics are looking ahead to
a synod of bishops in Rome in October
to discuss the survey results. But it will
not take any decisions, leaving that for a
second synod next year.
"He's telling bishops and priests: you
can speak out and we should listen. is
is a big change," Faggioli said. "Some are
ready to do that, like the Germans. But
others, like the US and Italy, aren't ready
Under Popes John Paul and Benedict,
synods were scripted sessions with little
debate. If the bishops don't open up this
time, he said, it will be "a major blow" for
" e high expectations he has raised
refocus everything that happens in the
Church onto him," the theologian said.
While many bishops still seem cautious
about following Francis's example, Faggioli
said surprises could still come.
" e preparations for Vatican II from
1959 to 1962 were a huge disappointment,
but when the bishops arrived in Rome,
they found their voice," he said. "Maybe
when they gather for the synod, a new
chemistry will start brewing."
4 - Saturday, March 15, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
44 BC - Roman dictator Julius Caesar is
assassinated by conspirators led by Brutus and
1776 - US Congress resolves that authority of
British Crown should be suppressed.
1877 - e rst cricket Test between
Australia and England is played in
Melbourne, which the home side
wins by 45 runs.
1917 - Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
abdicates for himself and his son;
his brother Grand Duke succeeds as
tsar and a provisional government
1937 - First central blood bank to preser ve
blood for transfusion by refrigeration, is set up
at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.
1943 - Japanese planes attack Darwin.
1964 - Actress Elizabeth Taylor marries actor
Richard Burton in Montreal.
1971 - e US tv network CBS drops the Ed
Sullivan Show after 23 years.
1975 - Death of Aristotle Onassis, Greek
shipping magnate and husband of former US
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, aged 69.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Andrew Jackson, US president (1767-1845);
Harry James, US bandleader (1916-1983);
Alan Bean, US astronaut (1932-): Mike Love,
US pop musician Beach Boys (1941-); Sly
Stone, US singer-musician (1943-);
Bobby Bonds, US baseball player
(1946-2003); Ry Cooder, US
guitarist (1947-); Renny Harlin,
Finnish lm director (1959-); Fabio,
Italian model (1961-); Terence
Trent D'Arby, British singer (1962-
); Penny Lancaster, English model
(1971-); Mark Hoppus, US musician (1972-);
Eva Longoria, US actress (1975-); will.i.am,
American singer (1975-).
"Sometimes it's worse to win a ght than
to lose." --- Billie Holiday, American singer
"I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies."
--- 2 Samuel 22:4.
premises in Tainui
Street have outlived their usefulness and the
cost of repairs is not warranted, the association
president Mr J C Johnson says in his report
to be presented at Wednesday night's annual
meeting. He is referring to an executive
committee decision made last April to rebuild
Mr Johnson says this major project will
require the concentrated e ort of all members
and it should not be long before a start is
made on the new building. Referring to the
membership, the president says that the
number of nancial members at the end of
December was 591, compared with 635 the
"With the loss due to death of an average
3000 New Zealand servicemen a year, it is vital
to keep our membership at full strength, and
I appeal to all members to make an e ort to
induce our fellow ex-ser vicemen who are not in
the organisation to join," adds Mr Johnson.
A donation made by the Mayor of
Greymouth Mr F W Baillie on Saturday
was su cient to ensure that the Greymouth
Pensioners' Association obtained the furniture
in its new rooms without spending a penny.
e president of the association, Mr A E
Fisher, explained at the opening ceremony that
a grant of £250 had been received from the
Mines Amenities Council for the furniture
which had cost £250 0s 9d.
"I was very interested to hear that you got
your furniture for nothing, except for 9d," said
Mr Baillie. "Well, here's your 9d."
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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Britain's Prime Minister
David Cameron rambled
a bit on his visit to
Afghanistan last December,
but ended up sounding just
as deluded as United States
President George W Bush had been when
he proclaimed "Mission accomplished" six
weeks after the invasion of Iraq.
British troops were sent to Afghanistan,
Cameron said, "so it doesn't become a
haven for terror. at is the mission . . .
and I think we will have accomplished
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
was equally upbeat when addressing
Canadian troops just before they pulled
out in 2011. Afghanistan no longer
represents a "geostrategic risk to the
world (and) is no longer a source of
global terrorism," he said.
Both men are technically correct, since
Afghanistan never was a "geostrategic
risk to the world" or "a haven for terror,"
but they must both know that the whole
war was really a pointless waste of lives.
Obviously, neither man can a ord
to say that the soldiers who died
in obedience to the orders of their
government (448 British troops, 158
Canadians) died in vain, but Barack
Obama has found a better way to address
he just does
not o er any
support for the
troops, only his
support for their
former Defence Secretary Robert Gates,
and he was right.
So was Obama, in the sense that
he realised the mission, whatever its
purpose (the de nitions kept changing),
was neither doable nor worth doing. But
in fact he did support it, at least to the
extent of not pulling the plug on it ---
and 1685 of the 2315 American soldiers
killed in Afghanistan died on his watch.
Could do better.
Now there is another election coming
up in Afghanistan (on April 5), and at
least three-quarters of the remaining
foreign troops (perhaps all of them) will
be gone from the country by the end of
this year, and the whole thing is getting
ready to fall apart. is will pose no
threat to the rest of the world, but it is
going to be deeply embarrassing for the
western leaders who nailed their ags to
this particular mast.
e election is to replace President
Hamid Karzai, who has served two full
terms and cannot run again. It will be at
least as crooked as the last one in 2009:
20.7 million voters cards have already
been distributed in a country where
there are only 13.5 million people over
the age of 18. Karzai is so con dent of
remaining the power behind the throne
that he is building his "retirement"
residence next to the presidential palace,
but he is probably wrong.
His con dence is based on his skill as a
manipulator of tribal politics. Indeed, his
insistence that the US hand over control
of Bagram jail, and his subsequent
release of 72 hard-core Taliban prisoners,
was designed to rebuild ties with the
prisoners' families and clans before the
election. But it is that same Taliban
organisation that will probably make all
Karzai's plans and plots irrelevant.
It is not that the Taliban will sweep
back to power all over Afghanistan
once western troops leave. ey really
controlled only the Pashtun-majority
areas of the east and south and the
area around the capital even when they
were "in power" in 1996-2001, while
the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras of the
"Northern Alliance" ruled the rest.
at pattern is likely to reappear, with
the Taliban and the northern warlords
pushing politicians like Karzai aside ---
probably not at once, when most or all of
the western troops go home at the end
of this year, but a while later, when the
ow of aid (which accounts for 97% of
Afghani government spending) nally
e US-backed government of
South Vietnam did not collapse when
American troops went home in 1973,
but two years later, when Congress cut
the aid to Saigon. e Soviet-backed
government of Afghanistan did not
collapse when Soviet troops withdrew
in 1989, but three years later, after the
Soviet Union collapsed and Russia cut
the aid. It will happen that way again.
e new part-Taliban Afghanistan
that emerges will be no more a source of
international terrorism than the old part-
Taliban Afghanistan was. It was Osama
bin Laden and his merry men, mostly
Arabs and a few Pakistanis, who plotted
and carried out the 9/11 attacks, not the
True, bin Laden et al were guests on
Afghan soil at the time, but it is highly
unlikely that they told the Taliban about
the attacks in advance. After all, they
were probably going to get their hosts'
country invaded by the United States;
best not to bring it up. And there have
been no international terrorist attacks
coming out of Afghanistan in the
past eight years, although the Taliban
already control a fair chunk of the
e election will unfold as Karzai
wishes, and his preferred candidate
(exactly who is still not clear) will
probably emerge as the new president,
but this truly is a case of rearranging the
deck-chairs on the Titanic. e second
long foreign occupation of Afghanistan
in half a century is drawing to a close,
and Afghanistan's own politics and
history are about to resume.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Afghanistan: Mission not accomplished
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
I was talking with a friend not so long
ago who was telling of an upcoming
job interview and their concerns about
whether the timing was right and
whether they would be up to it and
whether there would be enough support
and training to go with it. And I sort of
ippantly said that it might be a "nudge
from the universe", that it might be the
right time and position.
Not too long after my friend received
several more "nudges" by way of another
person needing extensive help from
them and nancial demands on top
of limited income. To my friend the
universe delivered a "nudge too far"
and saw them requiring expert help to
Last straws; overload; burnout --- what
do we do with the things that tip us over
the edge? Do we see them coming? How
do we recognise them, manage them,
share them round?
A lot of work has been done around
personal resilience and response to
pressure. Much of the eld of psychology
and psychiatry is based around helping
people who have had too many nudges
from the universe in their lives, both as
the fence at the top of the cli and the
ambulance at the bottom. And mostly
we have come a long way from the time
when we blamed demon possession or
sinfulness for how people manifested this
inability to deal with "too much".
Last week Robin Kingston spoke to us
of the healing work that can take place
in a supportive listening and prayer
environment. Of the healing work
being done by people caring enough
for others that they give of themselves
to companion them through the tough
As followers of Jesus we are a people of
hope. How we both hold this hope for
ourselves, and communicate it to others,
is essentially what we are here for. e
Jewish prophet, Micah, writes that what
God requires of people is that they be
just and kind and live in quiet fellowship
with God. at easy and that hard.
Greymouth Uniting Church
A nudge too far
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