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AUSTRALIA: Ordinariate of the Southern Cross faces Uncertain Future

AUSTRALIA: Ordinariate of the Southern Cross faces Uncertain Future
Rome-based CDF says put up or else face consequences.

PHOTO: The Rev. Msgr. Carl Reid, PA

By David W. Virtue, DD
January 25, 2021

The Rome-based Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has put the Australian Ordinariate (OLSC) on notice, offering a timeline. Unless they grow and face their financial problems, they will effectively be closed, according to correspondence VOL has received.

A letter signed by Fr. Ken Clark, Episcopal Vicar, revealed that the average age of their parish priests is 70, with priests in Perth, Cairns, Rockhampton, Brisbane, and Melbourne over the age of retirement. Only two parishes are considered viable by the CDF: Perth and Sydney. No other parish can sustain a priest, pay the stipend, let alone pay for a car or housing. All others are borrowers of properties and reliant on the good graces of the local bishop.

Parish membership is not growing in the way the CDF envisioned. There has been no sustained growth in any community, though some appear now to be growing, and may achieve sustainability in the long term -- which we may not have.

The CDF has given OLSC a year to become financially viable or else 'steps' will be taken. It says a parish needs $60k a year to support a priest, but that OLSC parishes need to raise $30k a year and the Ordinariate will provide the other $30k.

VOL was sent financial reports of OLSC to the Charities Commission which revealed that in 2018-19 they had been running at a deficit in the $50ks. In 2017, the project was the same, but someone left a large amount of money in a will.

Members of the Perth Parish are making a formal complaint to the Australian Charities Commission to get the financial numbers, which by law are meant to be reported and released to the parish. Msgr. Harry Entwistle, the first ordinary of the OLSC has never done it, and his offer of "if you have any questions come and see me"- they have, and he has not.

The CDC has issued a timeline, and that timeline is dependent on its priests and laity of the Ordinariate.

• The major city parishes must be able to sustain a priest financially. These communities must generate and have in hand $30,000 by the end of 2021, and have the same in pledged donations for 2022, ending in 2023. The amount will be matched by the Ordinariate, provided each major city parish achieves the target.
• If this benchmark is not reached, met, then letters will be sent to the ACBC by January 2022 at the latest, asking counsel regarding the future of OLSC.
• If the above benchmark is achieved, then a letter will not be sent to the ACBC, seeking counsel, until January of 2023 at the latest.
The total of $60,000 per year is also the target for our country parishes as well. The letter says that if there is to be a future for the Ordinariate, there must be growth both in numbers and in gifting.

Without these goals being met ,"there is the real possibility of our demise as a 'Diocese'", he concluded.


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