Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saint Mary MacKillop: A "rebel"?

On the Compass coverage of the canonisation last night, Geraldine Doogue interviewed the Secretary of the Bishops Conference, Fr Brian Lucas. He insisted that Mary was "a woman of the Church" and could not in anyway be painted as "a rebel". Needless to say, Geraldine just about choked on this assertion and begged to differ. Fr Lucas, however, wasn't having any of it.

My friend, Andrew Rabel, filed a report for "Inside the Vatican Newsflash" (my link for this isn't working - sorry). Here's some of what he wrote:
With the news that Australia was to have its first saint canonized on October 17, the normally secular country has erupted with joy. But it seems that many are more interested in a false conception of Mary, and perhaps this is a reflection of attitudes that have prevailed following the Second Vatican Council.

For instance, looking on the website romancatholicwomenpriests.org, a blog by Bridget Mary says, “Pope Benedict will canonize Mother Mary MacKillop, an excommunicated nun. Perhaps, this Pope is offering hope to the many thousands of Catholics who have been excommunicated, including women priests. Excommunication is not a barrier to canonization.”
Yes, but Mary Mackillop’s excommunication was lifted a few months later by the very bishop who performed the sentence, realizing he had been badly advised.

Following the tensions that came in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, there has been the tendency for different factions in the Church to use a person like Mary MacKillop to bolster their own cause.

...Mary MacKillop was far from being a rebel. She was a woman of deep fidelity and loyalty to the Catholic Church. ...In 1873 when MacKillop met Blessed Pius IX at the Vatican, in an attempt to gain approval of her order by the Holy See, she recognized her lowliness in having been excommunicated (albeit falsely) and said that meeting the Holy Father was a day that was worth years of suffering.

...Unfortunately, people today who resist Church authority in matters like women's ordination or contraception etc ...use Mary MacKillop as an example to justify these actions. They say "She was disobedient and payed the price for that. Now the Church has made her a saint because of this".

For starters, Mary MacKillop founded her order of nuns to teach the Catholic faith to the poor children of Australia. She knew that in this emerging waspish country the faith was under attack by people of influence who wanted secular education only. Her resistance to Bishop Sheil's edict had nothing to with disobedience, as such. She had made religious vows to live her life in a certain manner, with the principle of self-government that he had agreed to. Suddenly when things had not gone to his liking, he had no authority to tell Mary to conduct her community differently, and this was the advice she had been given by her Jesuit confessors who had been trained in canon law. Bishop Sheil had limited knowledge of these areas.

The Holy See approved the rule, with a few modifications, but most importantly they gave approval to her principle of self-government, and they were to be supervised directly by the Holy See. Later on the successive bishop of Adelaide, Christopher Reynolds still tried to get the Sisters to follow him and when they wouldn't, banished Mary to Sydney. Fr Paul Gardiner SJ, a postulator of the Cause, always regarded this episode as worse than her excommunication, as it involved outright calumny. (A nun who falsely accused Mary to the bishop of being a drunkard, because of the brandy she was taking to deal with painful periods!) Bishop Reynolds had no right to do this, as the Rule now approved by Rome, stated they were not under the authority of the local bishop.

...But when all is said and done, the key to understanding Mary MacKillop is that she was a person of holiness. ...Yes the canonization of Mary MacKillop is very sorely needed, because we don’t need another sports star or celebrity. We need a saint.

Saint Mary was a "rebel" only in the sense that she was determined to be faithful to her vocation and to live faithfully according to the call of Christ despite the obstacles of many sinful people both inside and outside the Church. At no time was she ever a "rebel" against Christ's holy Church. Those who try to coopt her to any movement of dissent in the Church are horribly abusing the memory and example of this holy woman.


At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 6:20:00 am , Anonymous Matthias said...

It would be interesting to see if those who think Mary mckillop was a rebel-like geraldinedoogue-and thus against the whole male patriarchy of the Church,would also deny the Deity of Christ,the inspiration of Scriptures and the need for Confession of sins and repentance .

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 6:39:00 am , Anonymous Peter Golding said...

Doogue,like most at our ABC,has a motto of "never let the facts get in the way of a good story".She commenced the show by saying that St.Mary had been ex-communicated because she had outed a pedophile priest.This has been well and truly denied by Fr.Paul Gardiner S.J. who is as knowledgable as anyone on the history of St.Mary's life.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 7:28:00 am , Anonymous Tony said...

Interesting Matthias? Are you sure you haven't made up your mind already?

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 7:47:00 am , Anonymous francis douglas said...

The reading of Maru's excommunication was the sisters dobbed an Irish Priest and he was sent home. His mates then took a set to the Brown Joeys. Get over it, they were "never as good as the IRISH Mercies" in the eyes of the Irish Priests and Bishops. Face facts. The Irish sent their Paedophiles to the Colony up until the 1980's. Read the reports from the Irish Parliament. MacKillop was used and abused like most women. She was Scottish ancestory. She was Woman who was not sub-serviant to the old Irish Bishops. We had their rot aup to the 90's and lived with them. She followed her Jesuit Brothers advice that the British and Irish felt the aboriginals were never human. Her problen was she was not going to be a lackie to the Old Mens Club of Bishops and Cardinal Moran plus Kelly. Cardinal Gilroy demanded her cause was to be re-opened. The truth will set you free.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:21:00 am , Anonymous Marcel said...

I think the overwhelming majority of the coverage prior to the canonisation was regrettable. This moment was a potential goldmine for evangelisation purposes. Instead, the PR machine of the Australian Catholic Church (I use the term deliberately) chose to focus on Mary's 'Australian-ness', her 'tolerance', her 'openness', her excommunication, her 'feminism' and her 'feistiness'. I was very disappointed, in particular, with Cardinal Pell's newspaper column on the canonisation.

It may seem redundant to empasise this, but in light of the lamentable commenatry accompanying nearly every report on St Mary of the Cross, perhaps news releases from our chanceries could have added as a footnote that Mary Mackillop was a proud member of the militant, anathematizing, dogmatic, triumphalist, pro-life, anti-Protestant and anti-liberal Church of Bl. Pius IX's age. You wouldn't have known it judging from the woefully inadequate public comments from the modernist Sisters of St Joseph and the Bishops of late.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:28:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

I can't say that I entirely disagree with you, Marcel. We keep hearing that Mary was a "woman of Australia", that she belonged to "all Australians". But the very name she chose for herself in religious life tells another story. She is not "Mary of Australia" but "Mary of the Cross".

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:41:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

Tony: Her successors are women of the ages of JPII and Benedict not Pius IX.

Gareth: What do you mean by this?

Would JPII and Benedict really condone the quasi-feminism, anti-orthodox catholicism and abandonment of much of the sisters prayer life that is exhibited by so many of the current day SSJ.

I don't think JPII or Benedict would be putting their hand up for standing for empty converts...

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:20:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

Do the modern day Sisters of Saint Joseph really care for the poor?

Where I live there is a ecunemical weekly prayer service for mothers and unborn children. The convent is only a ten minute walk.

My family has attended regurlarly for ten years but we have not seen one SSJ?

Saint Mary of the Cross, pray that we may help the poor.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:25:00 pm , Anonymous Tony said...

Her successors are women of the ages of JPII and Benedict not Pius IX.

Was in response to Marcel's 'Mary Mackillop was a proud member of the ... Church of Bl. Pius IX’s age'.

Would JPII and Benedict really condone the quasi-feminism, anti-orthodox catholicism and abandonment of much of the sisters prayer life that is exhibited by so many of the current day SSJ.

Well, they had oversight of the order, so I guess you can draw conclusions from that.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:05:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

I am not sure what conclusion to draw.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:23:00 pm , Anonymous Pax said...

I followed these posts with interest.What I have read of Mary and her background makes me suspect she would not have much time for too much talk.She seemed to be rebellious in the way of all great saints. She could not betray Truth. This enabled her to act outside of current convention when Truth required her to do so.I find it rather endearing that she seems to have united Jew, Muslim and Christian at least for the day of her canonisation surely a miracle in itself worth giving thanks for in these troubled times.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:25:00 pm , Anonymous Tony said...

I can only think of two possibilities, Gareth.

1. Characterisations of the Joshephites such as 'the quasi-feminism, anti-orthodox catholicism and abandonment of much of the sisters prayer life' might not be fair or accurate. Or, if they are,

2. They happened on PJPII and PB16's watch and were therefore approved.

(BTW, given that they both were at or near the top for a generation, I'm not sure you can claim that they couldn't have known about what was going on.)

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:49:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

Are the Popes God?

No, they can only do what that can do.

The way I see it is that the past few Popes have offered up many plees and decrees for modern religious to re-consider the path they have taken at an individual and communal level (the Pope's quote on religious dress that I showed you in a previous post) being one of many).

The way I see it is that Bishops or the Superiors of religious houses have not been serious enough to heed the Pope's words and things slowly but surely feel into decay.

Anyhow, it is the religiou sisters own fault if they could not have seen their orders falling to pieces and then freely choose to do nothing about it.

Praise God that those religious that are faithful to the rules of their orders, prayer life and are truly counter-cultural will lead the next leaders of the Church this century.

At Wednesday, October 20, 2010 5:24:00 am , Anonymous Matthias said...

No Tony just a genuine question asked by a proddy

At Wednesday, October 20, 2010 5:27:00 am , Anonymous Matthias said...

Can i ask a simple question for I am a simple man:
is there a history of angst between Tony and gareth or is it just this blog that we find these two combatants

At Wednesday, October 20, 2010 5:57:00 am , Anonymous Tony said...

Not sure if 'angst' is the right word, Matthias, but the simple answer is 'yes'.

I won't bore you with my version of our encounters because I always aspire to keep the personal out of exchanges.

At Friday, October 22, 2010 6:53:00 pm , Anonymous Schütz said...

I think, Gareth, that it is entirely possible that you and Tony may in fact BE each other's "purgatory"...


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