Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Brisbane abuzz with news of new bishop

“With few illusions about myself or the task that awaits me in Queensland, but with trust in the Lord who sends me, I pack my bags and head north once again.”
The next Archbishop of Brisbane - the capital city of the state of Queensland - will be the Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, biblical scholar, competent liturgist and previous Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn (Canberra, although the Australian capital, is a much smaller city than Brisbane). 

It is fascinating to see how much media interest there has been in this new appointment - as much in the mass media as in the Catholic press. 

His credentials are impressive: chaplain to Bl. Pope John Paul II; member of the Pontifical Council for Culture; chairman of the Roman Missal Editorial Committee of the International Commission for English in the Liturgy; chairman of the International Commission for the Preparation of an English-language Lectionary; chairman of the Australian Bishops' Commission for Liturgy; doctorate in scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute; and the list goes on. He is, in fact, a compelling and influential preacher. 

I have already posted the Archbishop's comments on the new translation of the Roman Missal - the speech he gave in Perth in 2010 is particularly interesting.  I thought it might also be apt to quote at length from his 2008 "Pentecost Letter on the Liturgy"

“In this next phase of the ongoing journey of liturgical renewal, some things are clearly important.  Among the more important are the following:
  • a strengthening of the sense of the nature and importance of ritual and symbol and of the distinction between the sacred and the profane;
  • a deeper inculcation of silence into our worship, so that there is a richer and deeper interplay of silence and words, silence and music;
  • a right balance between continuity and discontinuity with the liturgical forms and traditions of the past;
  • a body of liturgical texts which pass on the full wealth of the liturgical, spiritual and theological heritage found in the Roman Missal;
  • liturgical music which nourishes rather than substitutes for prayer;
  • an effort to ensure that beauty in worship opens us more deeply to the mystery of God; and
  • a focusing of the different and complementary roles presumed in Catholic liturgy (and ecclesiology), so that the identity and function of the ordained and non-ordained are clearly seen.
Much has been achieved in the journey of liturgical renewal since the Second Vatican Council, but there is still much to be done.  Without abandoning the gains of recent decades, now is the time to take stock comprehensively, with our eye firmly fixed on both pastoral need and liturgical tradition in the way presumed by the Council.  

At times when my own spirits have flagged in what I am doing to help the Church move through this next phase of liturgical renewal, I have thought to myself that what we are doing – what we are all called to do now – is to prepare an Upper Room where the Lord can celebrate the Passover.  In the Gospel, Jesus asks, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples” (Mark 14:14); and in shaping the liturgy we are providing the Lord with an answer – “a large room upstairs, furnished and ready” (v. 15).  The room must be large because all the disciples will gather there: the liturgy is for everyone.  Moreover, in all our efforts to renew the liturgy as the Church requires, we are seeking to ensure that the room is “furnished and ready”.  Much has been done to prepare the room, but there is still much to be done to ensure that it is fully furnished and ready for the feast.  

The Passover is also the Wedding Feast of the Lamb who has taken to himself his Bride, the Church.  We are planning the banquet which celebrates the marriage of heaven and earth.  In all the work now being done on the Missal, we are providing the Church with words.  We are looking for the right words to place on the lips of the Bride as she speaks in love to the Bridegroom.  But it involves more than words, however important they may be.  We are looking for rituals and symbols, for songs and gestures, for buildings and furnishings, vestments and vessels, all of which will be worthy of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.”
According to the archdiocese of Brisbane, the new Archbishop's principal areas of focus will be "liturgy, teaching of faith to the young and of encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life."

I have said before that the Church in Australia is in a great state of flux at present, and the ramifications of this appointment will no doubt be profound.