'We all work for the common good'

05/07/2010

Bishop Kevin Manning’s Address to Civic Leaders: Reception to welcome the new Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, and to acknowledge the long-serving contribution of Most Rev Kevin Manning, Bishop Emeritus, Granville Town Hall, 2 July 2010.

Bishop Kevin Manning and Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr Paul Garrard
Bishop Kevin Manning with Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr Paul Garrard. Photo: Karen Steains.
The Lord Mayor, Mr Paul Garrard, and Councillors, my brother Bishop, and friends,

I thank you for your kind words and for your generous spirit in offering a civic reception to mark my retirement as Bishop of Parramatta after 13 years and to formally welcome Bishop Anthony Fisher.

In Parramatta we live in a Cathedral city and, obviously, the Cathedral is a place for worship in the Catholic tradition but it is also a space for reflection for all who live and work in the city, and all are welcome: those of the Christian faith, those of other faiths and those who profess no religious belief.

One of the highlights of my time in Parramatta has been the opportunity for inter-religious dialogue, probably one of the best in Australia, and Council has always been supportive.

Over the centuries a very close relationship has existed between cities and their cathedrals. Even today, in Europe, where religious belief has waned, in times of civic distress or civic rejoicing, people rally in front of cathedrals.

The Cathedral space, its precinct, is as much part of the urban fabric as any other building in the city, and I look forward to the time when we are able to give greater visible expression to that concept. I gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Council at the time of the rebuilding of the Cathedral.

This cooperation is evidence of the mutual interest which has characterised relations between mainstream churches, goverments and Councils, at all levels in Australia.

It brings about an understanding that we all work for the common good. I acknowledge here the cooperation and good relations that exist with the State Government, with the Commonwealth Government and the Parramatta Council.

The Catholic Church is vitally interested in the good of society and has a clearly articulated a vast body of teaching on the common good, well summarised by St Matthew in his Gospel that: “we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and afflicted and comfort the victims of injustice” (Matt 25). This was the basis of my contributions to the debate on workplace relations. This common purpose of devotion to the common good is the basis of much of our cooperation.

Local government and local churches, dioceses, are not competitiors, rather they are partners in building up the social capital of the city.

And relationships, I must say, between the Catholic Church and Parramatta Council in the development of social capital have always been characterised by mutual trust, respect and dialogue in good faith.

Of course, no one is perfect and no institution is perfect and there have been a few hiccups along the way but a characteristic of the Christian is that he is always hope filled.

In 2003, we celebrated together the Bicentenary of the first Mass in Australia and Parramatta Council featured very prominently in the events of the time. Celebrations commemorated Governor King issuing a proclamation announcing that Fr James Dixon was authorised to say Mass for the Catholics of the colony.

This is the first recorded evidence of such a provision. King thought that Mass might do the Catholics good and, at least, no harm. The Vinegar Hill Rebellion followed soon after.

The proclamation, a unique event in Australian history, was delivered on 20 April at Government House in Parramatta.

As an addendum I mention that Catholics will next year celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Diocese. I hope there will be some opportunity to memorialise that event in the life of the city of Parramatta.

Although I am no longer living in the city of Parramatta, I am still living in the Diocese and follow closely what goes on. Having spent almost 13 years in Parramatta, I have an abiding interest in the city, its people and their welfare and I pray for you daily. My time with you has been most enjoyable and fruitful and I thank you all sincerely.


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