John Crothers, parish priest of St Declan's, Peakhurst and Penshurst, in southwest Sydney has bravely spoken out against Pell's leadership style in a letter to Online Catholics last week. The letter from which the following paragraphs were taken may be read here
The fundamental problem with this sort of conservative leadership style is that it is exclusive and inflexible. Its exclusiveness expresses itself in an "us and them" mentality. I think this is one of the main reasons for the current low morale among the Sydney priests. Many feel that they are "on the outer" because their model of church does not correspond to the highly conservative model that is being pushed at the moment.
The inflexibility of this particular model of leadership is expressed in the way the institution is seen as more important than the people in it. The gluten-free host issue is a typical example. I simply cannot understand how bishops can argue that this is what Jesus would want. Jesus' way of ministering was anything but rigid and institutionalised. He focussed on people, rather than laws. In particular he was always inclusive, rather than exclusive. I feel that many of our Church leaders need to reassess the current model of Church leadership in the light of Jesus' own style of leadership.
The issue was also taken up by the Sydney Morning Herald with articles on Monday and Tuesday.
Let us pray that more of the good men out there find the courage to make a stand with Fr John.