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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mnnews.today/aurora-magazine
Is the PoPe catholIc?
(and people) integrated in Christ.
The “facts” the Church teaches are not a
mishmash of diverse, stand-alone doctrines.
They are a unified whole within an organic
structure that exhibits consistency and harmony.
There is rational, relational connection between
what she teaches about God, Jesus, humanity,
creation, salvation, eternity and all things.
Church teaching concer ni ng ‘the facts’ of our
religion then blends seamlessly
into the response and
behaviours which they invite
from those who embrace
them as true. These are the
“dos and don’ts”. Catholic
moral action flows from her
teachings and beliefs.
The perfect example of
catholicity is Jesus. What Jesus
did was beautifully of one piece
with what he taught. It should be so
with us. Love is the response of those who
know God is love.
Pope Fr ancis’ re cent encyclical Laudato Si’ – On
Care for our Common Home − is an illustration of
strands of Catholic teaching woven into a whole,
with the emerging moral response clearly
presenting itself. The goodness of creation
requires humankind’s response of loving care .
Sometimes there is an un- catholic one-
sidedness , rather than balance.
Obser ving ‘conser vative’ a nd ‘liberal’ factions in
the Church, one can wonder if we are truly one.
An issue distinguishing the two could be found in
the question “Is upholding truth more important
than showing mercy? ” The impression is that
conser vatives would lean towards ‘yes’, liber als,
Catholicism would have us recognise tr uth and
mercy as equally, supremely, important
and then challenge us to unite
them pastorally. This has been
Pope Francis’ quest and call
with the Synod on the Family.
the Catholic way.
The Church has done it before.
She struggled for centuries to
reconcile Christ’s divinity and
humanity – Jesus is true God and
true man. She struggled longer against
the dictum, “error has no rights” to recognise
that people in error certainly do. While not
embracing erroneous beliefs and behaviours, we
embrace, respect and love persons who do. As
Many aspects of Catholic life and teaching
challenge us to marry seeming opposites and
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Most Catholics are used to the word ‘catholic’
meaning ‘universal’ – the Church is worldwide.
Growing up, I recall being told the Church is
so widespread that Mass is being celebrated
somewhere in the world at all times.
There is another aspect to ‘catholic’, and one
which, when neglected, has given way to
imbalance and polarisation.
‘Catholic’ is from the Greek kata holos, literally
meaning “according to the whole”. Words that
approximate this are “holistic”, “co mplete”, “all-
This meaning per tains to the interiority of the
Church, to the relationships that bind all her
teachings and all her practices in harmony and
unity. It means that all elements fit in and hold
together without any one part contradicting or
working against any other.
This is, of course, the ideal Church on the
theoretical level, the Church in theological-
speak . We experience the Church less per fectly
because we are flawed humans in a Church of
Yet, there is something real and wonderful
about the wholeness of such variegated aspects
What Jesus did
was beautifully of
one piece with
what he taught.
contradictions into unity, to avoid the ‘either/
or’ temptation and find the ‘both/and’ solution.
Catholic harmony integrates the head and the
heart, the body and the spirit, the law and one’s
conscience – and so on.
Harmo nisation is always the catholic endeavour.
Faith and science, faith and culture, faith and
reason are perfectly compatible when each
subjects itself to truth and goodness.
A fine illustration of catholicity is the
householder in Matthew’s Gospel (13 :52) who
has gathered, stored, and brings out old and
new treasures for the family. Categories such as
old and new are immaterial. Their true good for
the family is what matters.
A current beacon of catholicity is Pope Francis.
His teaching and example embrace goodness
and truth wherever encountered. He doesn’t
seem to know the divisiveness of left and
right. A dynamic balance within ex tremes is his
ter ritor y.
Is the Pope a Catholic? He certainly is. And,
per haps just as impor tantly, he is catholic.
Look for Aurora Magazine
to share your thoughts
Compiled by local historian and Maitland parishioner, Michael Belcher.
The Diocese of Maitland was established in 1847 but it was
essentially a titular see for the auxiliary bishop of Sydney. Its
area consisted only of the township of Maitland — and because
the parish of Maitland went to the Queensland border it really
only consisted of the parish of East Maitland.
When Bishop Murray took possession of the diocese in 1866
it extended to the area south of the Namoi (to the north-west)
and Hastings Rivers (up the north coast), north of the Turon
and Macquarie Rivers (just north of Bathurst) and the Blue
Mountains almost to the coast, west to the South Australian
border and east to the coast. It did not include Newcastle
and the area south of Newcastle.
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