Volume 1, Issue 1, February 1988
THIS IS A NEW JOURNAL from an old land. Australia has been a place of human dreaming for tens of thousands of years, and what you read in these pages is a late fruit of the ancient dreaming.
Just two hundred years ago a small fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour bearing a mob of England’s outcasts. Those ships bore European culture and belief to the Antipodes. In the next forty years some forty thousand convicts were transported from Britain to the new penal colony.
With the discovery of gold in the 1850s the fatal shore became the fabled shore. Fortune-seekers rushed from all points to the land of incalculable promise. Then in the wake of the great convulsions of this century, the broken middle-classes have migrated to Australia – from Britain and Ireland, from China and Italy, from Greece, Malta, and Yugoslavia, from Poland, Hungary, Latvia, the Lebanon, Mauritius, Vietnam, and Chile and many other lands. All have brought a heritage with them and all have left much behind. Hope and grief have intermingled.
The Australian landscape, at its heart, is marked by light and distance, by far and open horizons. The land is bounded by sky and the great oceans – images traced on the cover of this new journal. In the ancient and arid land to which they have come through the last two centuries, the new settlers have chosen to huddle in a few cities on the continent’s green edge. The result is the most highly urbanised society in the world, despite the persistent myth of the Great Outback. Australia has not been an altogether welcoming place: the brave and the mad and the adventurous have pushed into the heart of the country, but for the most part the immigrants have left the inland spaces to the Aboriginal people.
One of the sailors of the mind who searched for the Great South Land was Pedro Fernandez de Quiros. He sought a vision which he named “Tierra del Espiritu Santo”, the Land of the Holy Spirit. But Captain de Quiros never arrived at his destination. And still today Australian society searches for its spirit, seeking an identity.
In what is perhaps the first radically secular society in history, with no hint of religious inspiration in its origins, the Church in Australia has always been something of an outsider. The American President seems obliged to speak of God and religion – the Australian Prime Minister would not dare. In a thoroughly pragmatic society, the theological enterprise has more often than not seemed a flourish or a distraction. The quest for an Australian theology has barely begun. Much of our Christian conversation has been too constrained by the vocabulary and vision of our European origins. Yet there are great opportunities for the Church here, free of many of the chronic rivalries and impasses of the Old World.
The Australian Church lives as part of a fundamentally European society in the Asian-Pacific region. She is well-poised, therefore, to serve as a bridge between the developed and the developing nations. Within the Pacific region there are countries and cultures as diverse as Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Malaysia, and the great agglomeration of South-East Asia; Papua-New Guinea and the island nations of Melanesia and Polynesia; New Zealand and, on the far eastern edge of the Pacific basin, the Americas. Pacifica hopes to be one meeting point where all these different voices might be heard, and where theology may be shaped to serve the faith in this region and beyond.
Pacifica arose out of a meeting in Melbourne of Roman Catholic theologians. Much of its initial support has come from individuals, communities and dioceses within the Catholic Church in Australia. But the theological enterprise in Melbourne is strongly ecumenical, and it is hoped that Pacifica will consistently reflect both its Catholic provenance and its ecumenical associations.
The journal’s title speaks not just of the great ocean around which we have settled in this part of the world. It speaks of peace, and that which makes for peace. The point of Pacifica is a fresh peace - between peoples, churches, religions, and theological styles – not cheap peace, but the peace of Christ which may embrace and transform conflict.
Forceful Stewardship and Neglectful Wealth: A Contemporary Reading of Luke 16
Reading Luke 16 as a literary unity brings the two parables (the Rogue Steward and the Rich Man and Lazarus) together in such a way that the fixity expressed in the latter serves as a perfect foil to the decisive action, in the matter of wealth, taken in the former. The intermediate sayings (vv 14-18) serve this overall instruction about wealth, with v 16 as pivot of the whole: the Rogue Steward who takes ‘violent' action against his own inclination is ultimately the faithful steward in an unequal world.
Jesus Christ: The Question to Cultures
Who Jesus Christ is and what he asks for from all who claim to be responding to his call to “follow” cannot be “controlled” or "contained” by any religion, any culture or any history. The life and teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth stand as a challenge to the absolutisation of any particular culture, religion or history.
The Universal Catechism at Vatican I
It was proposed at the first Vatican Council that the bishops should ask the Pope to issue a catechism to be taught throughout the Catholic world. The bishops debated the proposal and accepted, altering slightly the form first put to them; but war forced the Council to adjourn before it could decree this officially.
Christ's Prophetic Anointing by the Spirit
Our principal concern in this paper is to explore the manner in which an appreciation of prophetic mission “in the Spirit”, and the truth it is charged to express, can advance our understanding of the humanly articulated consciousness of Jesus. The divine truth conveyed by the prophets is a truth concerning human destiny with God; it is existential and practical, possessed by being lived out. Such was the truth that Jesus lived out and which shaped his articulated awareness.
Athanasius of Alexandria: A Paradigm for the Church of Today
The Church today no longer generates heresies as it did in the past centuries of intolerant dogmatism. But it generates a world-wide indifference by its persistent incapacity to articulate God’s revelation in Scripture within an adequately updated theological project. Athanasius bridged the gap between learned exegesis and common experience of faith, thanks to his remarkable sense of actualising the message of Scripture. He introduced into the Alexandrian tradition a truth of crystal clarity when interpreting Scripture, namely that true knowledge of God in Christian terms starts with Christ actualised in the present experience of faith and Church.
Between Chaos and New Creation
Of Prophets and Kings
The Sacrifice We Offer
A Matter of Death and Life: the Future of Australian Churches
New Wineskins: Re-imagining Religious Life Today
Worship in a Wide Red Land
Dreaming about the Church
The Role of the Theologian
Contemporary Roman Catholicism
Forward in Depth: Sermons and Addresses
Brendan Byrne, S.J.., M.A., D.Phil., is a member of Jesuit Theological College and chairs the Department of Biblical Languages and Literature at the United Faculty of Theology in Parkville, Melbourne. He has recently published Reckoning with Romans and a study of St Paul and Women is about is go to press. A shorter version of this article has been published in E. Osborn and L. McIntosh (eds.), The Bible and European Literature: history and hermeneutics (Melbourne: Academia Press, 1987).
Francis J. Maloney, S.D.B., B.A., S.T.L., L.S.S., D.Phil., is Head of the Biblical Studies Department at Catholic Theological College, Clayton, Victoria and Rector of the Salesian Theological College. He is a member of the International Theological Commission to the Holy See and Consultor to the Secretariat for Christian Unity. Most recent publications are Woman: First Among the Faithful. A New Testament Study (1986) and The Living Voice of the Gospel: The Gospels Today (1987).
Valentine G. Moran, S.J., M.A., is a Church historian witha particular interest in Modernism and the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century. He has recently published articles on Alfred Loisy and George Tyrrell in Theological Studies and The Downside Review. His address is Campion College, 99 Studley Park Rd., Kew, Vic 3101, Australia.
John Thornhill, S.M., S.T.L., Ph.D., lectures in Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic Theological Union, Hunters Hill, Sydney. Until 1985 he was a member of the International Theological Commission to the Holy See , he is currently a member of ARCIC II. His latest book is a theology of the Church called Sign and Promise, to appear shortly.
Charles Kannengiesser, S.J., Ph.D., Th.D., Lit.D., is a Catherine Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S.A. An internationally acclaimed patristic scholar, he has a special interest in Alexandrian Christianity and the theological and biblical traditions of the Greek Fathers. His latest publications are The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (1986) and Early Christian Spirituality (1987). This article is a revised version of the 1987 Cardinal Knox lecture given at Catholic Theological College in Melbourne.