VIDEO: Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO visits Newcastle

The level of media interest in the brief but rich visit of National Living Treasure Frank Brennan SJ to Newcastle on 21 November was an indication of the position the man occupies in Australian society, well beyond the church.

VIDEO: Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO visits Newcastle

Fr Brennan admitted that he had been enjoying the papacy of a Jesuit called Francis, and on a more serious note, characterized the last eight or so months in terms of a movement from the theology of the remnant – those who still ‘sign up’ to all the orthodoxies of the church – and a theology of leaven in the loaf, where what the Church preaches has as much to offer the world beyond itself as it offers its own.


Being the Church means “improving the quotient in the world of faith, hope and love” and being “open to respectful dialogue with people of all beliefs and none,” said Fr Frank. “We have to face the difficult mystery of those who leave the Church.”


On the recurring question of the ministry of women, Fr Frank said bluntly, “The Catholic Church is in a time warp with regard to married priests and women priests.” He cited Pope Paul VI’s 1976 Pontifical Biblical Commission, the report of which has never been released, saying that its release would be a good starting point to addressing the issue.


I appreciated particularly Fr Frank’s sharing of the words Pope Francis used to end his address to some 3000 journalists in March: 


I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing.  Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each, but in the knowledge that each of you is a child of God.  May God bless you!


“Now that’s what I call a real blessing for journalists – and not a word of Vaticanese.  Respect for the conscience of every person, regardless of their religious beliefs; silence in the face of difference; affirmation of the dignity and blessedness of every person; offering, not coercing; suggesting, not dictating; leaving room for gracious acceptance.  These are all good pointers for us Catholics helping to form the Church of the 21st century holding the treasure of tradition, authority and ritual in trust for all the people of God, including your children and grandchildren, as we discern how best to make a home for God in our lives and in our world, assured that the Spirit of God has made her home with us.”


Ranging across the papacy, the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, the losses and gains where Indigenous Australians are concerned, harvesting the gifts young people have to offer and the Special Inquiry and Royal Commission, Fr Frank was happy to answer questions “and nothing’s off limits”. 


On Sunday night Fr Frank was a guest on “Sunday Nights” on ABC Local radio, speaking about Pope Francis and referring specifically to his Newcastle visit. You can listen to the conversation here. You can also read some of Fr Frank’s writings at Eureka Street. The video below is a clip from NBN News showing a short interview with Fr Frank during his visit to Newcastle. Video courtesy of NBN Television.


Article by Tracey Edstein.




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