This month sees the retirement of Bishop Pat Power, Catholic Bishop in the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese. A long outspoken critic of the way the church deals with women, gays, divorcees and the idea of married priests, Pat is not exactly going quietly. Quite simply, he believes the current conservative attitude of the Church towards a large part of the community is both destructive and self defeating for the organisation in the long term.
Today’s Good Weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald had a long article on Cardinal George Pell, for all intents and purposes the head of the Catholic Church in Australia, that only serves to reinforce the very things Pat has been so outspoken about during his career. This week The Age called Pat “Australia’s last openly progressive Catholic bishop”. It takes enormous personal courage to be openly progressive in a conservative workplace, so even if you don’t agree with Pat’s take on things, surely he is to be admired for that alone.
I was raised as a Catholic in Canberra, his ‘home turf’ but more importantly, he’s a long time friend of my father so I have been witnessing at close hand his genuine grace, humility and love for his fellow human being for most of my life. This past week on Facebook has seen some discussion with former school mates about Pat’s retirement and there are so many wonderful stories of his personal contribution to so many families’ lives.
I’m no longer a practising Catholic, but continue to admire and respect Pat for his outstanding contribution to the Canberra-Goulburn community (a somewhat misnamed enormous geographical community that actually stretches from Moruya on the South Coast to Lake Cargelligo in the far west of NSW).
I wish him a long and happy retirement. And time for a few more glasses of wine with my dad and their other mates.