Home' Aurora : Aurora November 2013 Contents Master of Ceremonies, Josh Callinan,
summed up the 2013 Two Bishops Dialogue
by saying, "We've covered a lot of tricky
The annual Dialogue between the Anglican
and Catholic bishops had a new dimension
this year. Instead of taking place in the
evening attended by senior parishioners, this
year's event was hosted by Bishop Tyrrell
College, Fletcher and the audience consisted
largely of Year 11 students from the College,
St Catherine's Catholic College Singleton,
St Francis Xavier's College Hamilton and St
Paul's High School Booragul. The event was
renamed 'Hot Potato Shop'.
Bishops Peter Stuart and Bill Wright fielded
questions from the students, sharing
something of their own stories along the way.
In so doing, they vindicated Bishop Bill's
statement, "Where you start from determines
the road you take."
Questions ranged across an understanding
of sexual abuse, the relationship between
the Anglican and Catholic churches, the
future of the churches, evolution and the
perennial conundrum, "If God is good, why
does God allow bad things to happen to
One of the 'hot potato' issues was "gay
rights" and students were nothing if not
persistent in drilling down. Bishop Bill
indicated that he had read local writer Dr
Stuart Edser's partly-autobiographical book,
Being Gay and Being Christian and talked
with him. "Edser would say homosexuality
wasn't a lifestyle choice, it's who I am. As
Pope Francis remarked recently on this,
'Who am I to judge?'" Bishop Bill favours the
recognition of civil unions but "I would prefer
that it not be called marriage....We need to
proceed, not being afraid to question our
modern thinking but also not assuming that
we are the wisest generation on earth."
Bishop Peter acknowledged that the
church found the issue difficult, saying,
"The conversation is underway but there's a
There was no tension in the bishops'
attitude towards such issues as cuts to
foreign aid and the plight of asylum seekers.
Bishop Bill reminded his audience, "People
who need foreign aid aren't voting in
marginal electorates," with Bishop Peter
saying that looking after the less fortunate
"should be a deep value".
Where asylum seekers are concerned,
Bishop Peter highlighted the way in which
language demonises. "We stopped
Hot potato issues
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
Bishops Bill Wright (left) and Peter Stuart. Photo courtesy of Joanne Isaac.
humanising the problem and used terrible
terms like 'queue jumpers'. They are people
seeking asylum, legally."
"We focus on who they are; in many ways this
is about who we are. What we're doing at the
moment isn't satisfactory," said Bishop Bill.
Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries,
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Teresa
Brierley acknowledged the breadth of
issues raised at the end of the afternoon:
"Philosophy, psychology, sociology, theology,
anthropology, scripture and spirituality."
There are plans for this model of dialogue to
become an annual event.
Apart from the issues canvassed, as Bishop
Peter pointed out, some fifty years ago
the idea of Anglican and Catholic bishops
meeting together, much less jointly taking
questions from the floor, would have been
Times change -- in this case, for the better.
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
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