CathBlog – The Church in a time of crisis



If we accept that wonderful depiction of the word crisis as meaning conflict and opportunity, as well as breakdown and breakthrough, Catholics should welcome the Royal Commission. Fifty years ago the universal Church welcomed the “aggiornamento” that became the crisis we know as Vatican II.

If we have learned our lessons from how the Church did and did not manage that crisis, we should apply those learnings to the current situation of being Church in Australia today.

The most important learning from Vatican II for us to grasp is the realisation that the process of engaging in, and of managing, a crisis, follows a pattern. This pattern or model, is something we must attend to, if we are to offer any hope of a better future .

Fr Gerald Arbuckle, a well respected Australian cultural anthropologist, uses a 6-stage model to describe what happened in Vatican II. For brevity’s sake, I provide the merest outline below, from his book Refounding the Church:

Stage 1 – Understanding the present situation

Stage 2 – Initial un-ease and stress. Symbols shattered

Stage 3 – Church reactions, but attitudes remain unchanged.

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