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The First Public Meeting

Under headlines such as “Church slate crusaders to press on” and “Pope’s verdict sought on roof,” country and metropoli­tan newspapers ran stories that, true to form, missed the wider ramifications and often tended to trivialize rather than probe the issue.

The national television coverage included a lengthy segment on the A.B.C.’s 1989 June long-weekend edition of the 7.30 Re­port. Interestingly, in panning the presbytery room in which Fr. B was interviewed, the TV camera momentarily focused on a large banner over-hanging a fire place. It read: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. 1 (1. This apparently harmless message is rooted in the humanis­tic psychology of positive-thinking; a school of thought which emphasizes ego and ignores the reality and indispensability of grace in all personal successes and achievements. That the Team would give pride of place to this slogan in preference to its Catholic equivalent — Nothing is impossible, FOR GOD (Mark 10:27) — was telling.)

During the interview, Fr. B, in attempting to ex­tricate the Team from any wrong-doing, indulged himself in vin­tage verbal posturing of the newchurch variety, including:

A classical cliche: “In today’s Church we see things so much more differently. We see that we are a community together”.

In other words, several generations of Catholics in Benalla who either established St. Joseph’s parish, built the magnificent church or maintained and developed them during an eighty year period until the arrival of the Team, were not members of a real parish family at all. They just thought they were!

A newchurch howler: “In days gone by they had altar rails which kept the lay people from the clergy — maybe that’s why we are celibate.”

So much for the Holy of Holies! Praise the Lord and pass the cordless microphone!

And this remarkable statement: “We’re endeavoring to listen to everyone. I don’t know where we’ve turned away from people”.

In disbelief, I rushed to replay the video-tape. I pinched myself and rubbed my eyes but … there he was, saying it again.