Wednesday, February 7th, 2001: In which I resign from my Parish and Positions

The last week has been one of most significant in my life. Wednesday week ago (January 28th) I met with the District President to determine a strategy for the way forward. He advised me that I should give notice of my intent to take leave of absence this Sunday.

So, on Sunday 4th of February, the following letter was read out at Knox and Frankston:

From Pastor David, to my brothers and sisters in Christ at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church: Grace and Peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for all your prayers and support during the time I was considering the call to Hope Valley. Last week I announced that I had turned down this call, because I believed that God was leading me in another direction. I apologise that I could not have made this announcement last week. On the one hand, I was committed to giving an answer regarding the call, but on the other hand, things were not yet in place for me to divulge any further details.

Last Wednesday, I met with Dr Stolz. Now that that meeting has taken place, I am able to give you notice that I will be taking two years ‘leave of absence’ from active ministry in the Lutheran Church of Australia. This ‘leave of absence’ will come into effect in three months time, unless circumstances should require it to be earlier or later.

‘Leave of absence’ means that I will resign from this parish, but remain on the Roll of Pastors as a ‘pastor without call’ for up to two years. At any time during that period I will be able to accept a call and return to the active ministry, but in the mean time, I will need to seek employment outside the church.

I am taking this course of action for several reasons--not the least being the stress that I have experienced in ministering to the three congregations. But primarily I am taking leave because I have had growing doubts about my interior call to the ministry of the Lutheran Church. These doubts have made it increasingly difficult for me to function as a public representative of the LCA.

Although I knew that things would come to this eventually, I did not expect it to happen so soon. The call to Hope Valley, however, brought the crisis to a head, and Dr Stolz advised me before I went on holidays that if I turned down the call, I should consider taking leave of absence.

The three month period before my leave of absence becomes effective may be shortened if I am able to secure full-time employment before it comes to an end. Alternatively, it may be lengthened should I still have found no alternative employment after three months. This, and other terms of the leave, will be negotiated with the Church Council.

I make this announcement with the deepest sadness. I have found my time with you rewarding and enriching, and have built up many strong pastoral relationships. I also deeply regret that this announcement has to be by way of a letter, in which I cannot properly convey the grief this decision brings me. Nor can I properly address your own reactions. Next week I will be with you to answer any questions you may have. In the mean time, please phone me if you want to talk about this further.

May the love and peace of God be with you all.

5th Sunday after Epiphany, AD 2001

Although this letter was read by the elders at the Knox and Frankston parishes, I was present in person to make the announcement at Casey. I was glad of this this, because, of the three, Casey was the one I was worried about. In the words of District President “there is quite certainly a small cult of the person of David Schütz going on down there.” In the end, however, they accepted the news with equanimity and with gladness that I had the courage to make this decision. We were all being very strong about it, until one boy (one of the three young people I had admitted to first communion that morning) began to cry. That set me off, and several others too. I thanked him for being brave enough to be able to show his feelings like that--it was helpful for the rest of us.

I had tried to speak to my brothers on Saturday night to tell them what I was doing, but I was only able to speak to my younger brother and the wife of my youngest brother, as my youngest brother was away fighting bush fires on the Eyre Peninsula, and my oldest brother and his wife were away in Adelaide. So I tried again on Sunday, this time, getting my oldest brother as well. That was when I wrote the letter included in the last entry.

I then sent out a batch email to all pastors and other contacts and friends in and out of the church, sending a copy of the letter I had used to announce my decision to the congregations with this covering note:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am just writing you this brief note to make you aware of a decision that I have taken and announced to the congregations at Knox, Frankston, and Casey this morning. Attached is a letter that was read to after the lay-reading services at Knox and Frankston, as I was attending Casey all this morning.

I have taken this step of doing a "batch emailing", in an attempt to head off the "grapevine" and any rumours that may be spreading. I don't want to bore you all with the details or the reasons why, but if you want to know more, please phone me on (03) 9758 5194, or send back an email saying "tell me more", and I will be glad to respond.

Please also note that this decision has yet to be processed and approved by the District Church Council and the General Church Council.

Then on Monday, I wrote the following official letter of resignation:

District Church Council,
Lutheran Church of Australia--Victoria District,

Dear President and members of the District Church Council,

Yesterday I gave notice to Our Saviour’s Knox, St Peter’s Frankston, and Ascension Casey that I am applying for two years leave of absence, starting from 6th May 2001.

I am requesting this leave to allow myself time and space to determine the future of my ministry in the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Should I be offered employment outside the church before 6th of May, I will negotiate with the congregations for a reduction in my pastoral duties until that date is reached. If, through some misfortune, I am unable to attain employment before that date, I will seek an extension of up to one month before my leave becomes effective.

It is our intention to negotiate with the Knox congregation to continue living in the manse until such a time as we are able secure alternative accommodation, or the manse is required for other purposes by the congregation.

I understand that I will remain on the Roll of Pastors throughout the time of my leave of absence, and my access to the benefits of clergy of the LCA will not be inhibited. Should I not take a call within the two year period, I understand that I will be removed from the Roll of Pastors.

I commend the three congregations into your care.

Yours in Christ, etc.

I also wrote letters resigning from all my other duties, including LCA Commission on Worship, Victorian Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission, Chairmanship of the VCC Revisioning Committee, Australian Consultation on Liturgy,

I have been receiving many emails back from people and some phone calls to engage in discussion. Depending on who I have been speaking to, I have been fairly open about my reasons for making the decision, although I am trying to keep the reasons separate from the fact of my resignation for the sake of the congregation.

In the days since, I have felt very much at peace. It was the right decision after all. Even our cleaning lady said to me yesterday when I told her what I had decided: “Oh, that must be why you are looking so happy for a change!”

The last two nights I have fallen asleep praying the rosary. I don’t seem to be able to get beyond the third joyful mystery!

Notes on the period between Tuesday 30th and February 5th: in which I write lots of letters

I spoke to Peter Holmes tonight on the phone: “Mum, I’m tired, can I go home now?”

I have spoken about the road ahead to lots of people in the last few days: to members of my congregation, to my mother on the phone, to my seminary mentor, and to Fr John Fleming (who phoned as a "pastoral call").

The latter believed that my District President was "playing games" with me. He wanted to be quite sure that this is my own free decision, and that I was not being coerced. His question was: Could I ever see Cathy becoming a Catholic?

I had an argument with Cathy, a phone call from D. (one of my closest pastor friends) on Tuesday afternoon, and another call from my seminary mentor. I spent a lot of time preparing and mailing job applications.

I wrote the following letters to my family.

This is what I sent to my brothers, and to my Grandmother at the Hope Valley Homes:

11 Piperita Road
Ferntree Gully 3156

4th February, 2001

Dear ...,

I am glad we got to talk on the phone the other night. I would have preferred that I could have talked to you both in person, but I will have to use a letter to explain what has been happening. I have sent a similar letter to [my other brothers], and to Grandma. This will probably not be an easy letter for me to write, but I want to explain to you a little of why I turned down the call to Hope Valley and have taken leave of absence.

To begin with, I should say that the call was everything I could have wanted. Over a year ago, when the position was first created as a part-time chaplaincy, I said to Cathy “There is a job that I would really love to do.” I really thought that Aged Care might have been a direction for me to take, with my experience here as a chaplain for Martin Luther Homes in Boronia. The fact that I would have been moving back to Adelaide, closer to my family (right next door to Grandma, and practically next door to you!), and working with Pastor J.H. again (he was my senior partner at Warradale and is now the senior chaplain at Hope Valley), made it all the more attractive.

Yet in the end I had to turn it down. The reason for this is that I no longer believe that God is calling me to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church. When J.H. rang me to ask if he could put my name forward for call, I said ‘yes’ thinking that if the Lutheran Homes did decide to call me, this might be a real sign from God that I was indeed meant to continue as a pastor. I have been having these doubts since Easter last year, so I have been living with this for a while. The call actually accelerated things, and in discussion with my district president, he said to me that it had become clear that I had to decide between either going to Hope Valley and reaffirming my call to the ministry, or taking “leave of absence” from the ministry to sort things out.

In the end, after a very great deal of prayer and a lot of discussion with other pastors and friends and with Cathy, I have chosen to take leave of absence. Today I gave my congregations notice that I would be resigning, and that my resignation would be effective from three months time or earlier if I manage to secure a job (I am applying for jobs as a librarian). Theoretically, this gives me up to two years during which I will remain on the roll of pastors of the LCA. Any time during that two years, I can return into the ministry by taking a call.

The fact is, however, that I will not be returning to the ministry. So far what I have written in this letter is now public knowledge, but the reason for me taking leave of absence is something that I have only told friends and colleagues and family members in private (although I have no doubt the rumours will start to circulate soon). I will not be returning to the Lutheran ministry because I am preparing to be received into the Roman Catholic Church as soon as possible.

Two events have led me to this point. First, there was the agreement between the Catholic and Lutheran Churches with regard to the doctrine of justification. This agreement has shown that we have been guilty of misrepresenting the Catholic doctrine. The fact is that the Catholic Church teaches just as much as the Lutheran church that we are justified by God’s grace alone, and not by our own efforts. Secondly, the Lutheran Church of Australia very badly mishandled the issue of the ordination of women at the pastors’ conference and synod back in July last year. The split vote of the pastors’ conference, and the narrow defeat of women’s ordination at synod, demonstrated to me that the Lutheran Church had no recognised authority upon which it could decide such a fundamental issue of what was and what was not true.

But on top of this has been an intense reflection on the question of what the church actually is, and the authority by which the church distinguishes between what is true and what is false. In discussing my concerns with Lutheran pastors and Seminary lecturers, I realised that the Lutheran Church had no satisfactory answers to these questions. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church did have answers, and they were answers that, after some reflection--I came to accept as the truth.

In the face of this, I could not really continue to excercise a ministry as a Lutheran pastor. This “leave of absence” will basically cover the time between now and when I am (hopefully) received as a communicant member of the Catholic Church.

However, everything is not as clear and as straight-forward as all that. The Catholic Church has clear and strict rules regarding those who have been divorced and remarried. Divorced and remarried Catholics are not allowed to receive Holy Communion. For a convert to the Catholic faith such as myself, this means that I cannot actually be received into communion until my marriage to Cathy has been “regularised”. This means that both Cathy and I need to receive an “annulment” of our previous marriages (as we have both been married before). An “annulment” is a legal decision by the Catholic Tribunal that our previous marrriages were not binding sacramental marriages according to the definition of the Catholic church (similar to the way the State can “annul” a marriage if it doesn’t meet the legal requirements for a valid marriage). The process is lengthy, and is not guarenteed of success. In fact, the Tribunal may uphold one or the other or both of our previous marriages as valid, and therefore declare that our marriage to each other does not meet the requirements for a sacramental marriage recongised by the Church. If this is the case, I will never actually be able to be received into the Catholic Church.

That all sounds very complicated, but in fact it will make little difference to me with regard to which church I identify with. I will regard myself as a Catholic, even if I am never received into full communion in the Catholic church. On the other hand, if I am received into the Church, then a whole range of possibilities arise--maybe even ordination as a Catholic priest, although that would possibly be a bit of a long shot!

Cathy is not, herself, becoming a Catholic. She is remaining in the Lutheran Church. But she is very supportive of this decision. While the business of annulments raises some very unpleasant considerations for us, we are both totally committed to one another, our marriage and our children.

I know that this decision will cause pain for a lot of people, not the least those who are members of our family. But in the end this has become a conscience issue for me. I could not have gone to Hope Valley because I could not honestly have made the vows of a Lutheran pastor at my installation. If I went, I would have been doing so under false pretences.

There is so much more to say about this, but I find it very difficult to put into a short letter. I sent Mum and Dad a copy of my journal since last Easter, in the hope that it would help them understand my decision, and it is more than 40,000 words long (about 75 typed pages)--so it really is a very, very long story.

I hope I get the opportunity to sit and talk with you some time. I think that will be the only way that I could convey some of the reason for what I have chosen.

I am so very sorry that I could not have gone to Hope Valley. Like the call to Hermannsburg, it was never meant to be. Last time, I realised that as exciting as Hermannsburg would have been, it was not the way in which God was calling me. Thanks to that decision, I now have a wife and two wonderful daughters--something that at one stage I had thought would never happen. Now, I am acting in faith again, passing up what many would have seen as the perfect call, to follow where I think God is calling me. I trust that like the last time, this will also turn out for the best.

Please pray for me. I pray that you will be able to accept my decision. We can never really be happy if we try to live in a way that goes against our own conscience. I am at peace with my decision now, even though it probably will cause a lot of heart ache for others.

God be with you.

All my love,


Tuesday, 30th January 2001: in which I tell my story to my 'deanery' head

Continuing the story, I had to go to around to the St James' Church manse after the wedding rehearsal to pick up the wedding registrar. While there, I took the opportunity to tell Pastor W. what I had decided, given that he is the Zone Counsellor (equivalent of a 'deanery head'). He is also my father's cousin. He had a lot of questions, but at no stage did he say, “These questions don’t make sense”. I guess there will be many people to whom I will have to tell the whole story from scratch like this.

That night I listened to the Governor General’s Australia Day message. At the end of his message, he quoted the well known words of King George VI:

I said to the man at the gate of the year, give me a light. He replied: Put your hand into the hand of God, and it will be to you better than a light, and safer than a known way.
Nothing could be more appropriate for me at the moment.

Monday, 29th January, 2001: in which I cross the Rubicon, if not the Tiber, and Anthony Fisher gives me good news and bad news.

Okay. I am telling people now that I may not yet have crossed the Tiber, but I have certainly crossed the Rubicon. “Elea iacta est”, as Ceasar said.

I rang my seminary mentor to tell him I wouldn’t be coming to this next round of Commission on Worship meetings, because I was taking leave of absence to determine whether I would join the Catholic Church. He tried to encourage me still to come, but I said it wasn’t worth paying the airfare. For a start, I could have a job by then, and be unable to come (hence, it would be a waste of the church’s valuable money); secondly, I didn’t think I should be away from Cathy and the kids at this time; finally, I thought it was not valid for me to be involved with something that I am no longer fully committed to. He accepted all this with genuine sadness.

On Friday there was a ‘Pastor’s Wives’ lunch at Holmes, but really it was just Holmes’, Brook’s, and ourselves there. Still, it was a good opportunity for the two of us to talk to Andrew, and for Jodie and Cathy to talk with Susie. Andrew is one of those who listens, understanding that the issues we have dealt with are serious, and not just us “doing our thing”.

After this, I had an appointment with Anthony Fisher. He had rung me to say that he had something he wanted to tell me after his interview with the Vicar General (Bishop Denis Hart) and the Archbishop (George Pell). It was a bit of a “good news” / “bad news” interview. The good news was that I would not need to worry about employment; that when I needed something, there would be something. Anthony said, “for instance, if you last out to Easter, we will have something for you.” But it did not matter if I found a secular job in the meantime, and that if I needed something sooner, he would put the pressure on the guys at the top to do something. Basically, my CV has been circulated among the various personnel offices of the Catholic Church and its agencies and schools, and they will contact me if there is anything going. A job will not simply be created for me, however.

The “bad news” on the other hand was that Anthony did everything he could to discourage me from thinking that ordination is anything other than a far shot for me. He said that the Vicar General seemed distinctly uneasy about the suggestion of ordination in my case, because of my “messy” marital situation. Furthermore, there is the problem of Cathy not being a Catholic. None of these reasons mean definitely that I will not be accepted for ordination, but they raise question marks.

Then we finished by talking about P. Anthony said: “It is bizarre that there is this figure there who is ushering you into the church and who isn’t going in himself.” And after I had made some reference to “bloody P.”, Anthony said: “Tell “bloody P.” that he had better come and see me soon; he might die tomorrow.”

The rest of the day was a bit of a daze, as I tried to take all this in. I had a wedding rehearsal at Moorabbin after seeing Anthony, and I think I drove all the way there and back home without really concentrating on my driving.

Tuesday, 23rd January 2001: In which I turn down the call to Hope Valley, and realise I need to focus on my family

Today I visited Anthony Fisher in his office in the Theological Halls of the Catholic Church in Victoria Parade to take in my curriculum vitae. Anthony was meeting at 12:30pm with the Vicar General (and probably also the Archbishop) concerning my future and what they could do for me. Maddy came with me (and scoffed down five jam biscuits that Anthony placed on a plate before her). I took Maddy in to give Cathy some free space, but I think a part of me was showing her off. We talked about several topics, although I really had little to talk about since we are going to meet again on Friday. The two things Anthony wanted to be sure of were that I had turned down the Hope Valley appointment and was feeling okay about this, and that Cathy was also okay about it. We talked a little about the possibility perhaps of doing extra study (with a scholarship from the Archdiocese), perhaps in the John Paul II Institute of which Anthony is the Director. I said I was applying for secular jobs also, and hoped that this would not prejudice my final consideration for the priesthood. Anthony assured me that it would not; that many convert priests have to work in secular jobs for a while; and that if the vocation to the priesthood is still there even when I have a comfortable secular job, this would actually count in my favour.

When I got home, I called my district president. I told him that I had reached a decision not to take Hope Valley, and that therefore, I would need to consider the consequences of this in regard to leave of absence. I said that I was applying for other jobs (I didn’t mention that the Catholic Church is working towards helping me), and that we needed to talk ASAP. We have an appointment for next Wednesday morning. He handled this information very straightforwardly and “matter-of-factly” as if there was nothing particularly surprising in what I was saying. I think he must have expected this.

I was going to call JH (head chaplain at Hope Valley Homes) and the South Australian President this afternoon, but didn’t have the psychic energy for it. I am also dealing with a funeral of a Martin Luther Homes resident at the moment, which is complicated in a number of ways. I have the wedding on Saturday, and then services on Sunday. It doesn’t feel much like a holiday at all anymore. I will have to make up for it later. I am still concerned that Cathy is not using these days for what she intended, namely her annulment application. I have asked Anthony to enquire regarding Fr Tony Kerin’s advice about the order of annulment/profession/communion, which he will do. He said that the sticking point is likely to be that although the Tribunal could give an indication of the expected result in my case, Cathy’s application is not advanced enough for them to form an opinion on it.

Mum had rung earlier and left a message to say she wanted to talk with me and see how things were going. This evening I heard Cathy say to Maddy: “Do you want to talk to Grandma on the phone?” while I was out hanging out the washing, and so I came straight inside and listened in on the other line. Of course, I immediately began to tell Mum about my own situation and developments, and Cathy objected that she was talking and I had interrupted. So I let her and Mum speak until Mum asked how things were going for me. Then I launched into the full story. Then Maddy started crying and Cathy dealt with her while I kept speaking. A minute or so later, Cathy came in to say to me “Let me know when you're finished”. Mum and I spoke for a while longer—she says I am “making it hard for myself” by attempting to enter the Catholic church—and then I said to Cathy that Mum was ready to speak to her, and she said “Not now, I’ll call her back”. After Maddy was put to bed, Cathy said to me: “I called your mother, and I wanted to talk to her about the children, but you turned the whole thing around to yourself. It just shows how self-absorbed you are about this whole thing.” I pointed out that I thought Mum was calling me back from earlier, and that I was only answering Mum’s questions. But she is right. I am really far to self focused. As I was watering the garden (preparing for tomorrow’s 37 degree heat), I thought to myself that I really have to re-enforce my commitment to Cathy in some way.

As she was feeding Mia latter tonight, I sat down on the bed and said that God had his reasons for only allowing me to consider the Catholic question once I was securely married to her with our two children. Our marriage and our family therefore take priority over everything, even if it seems that I am “absent” from them so much. Cathy was disappointed about how our holiday at Cowes turned out, and how this week is turning out (what with the funeral, wedding and all). Another pastor [a cousin of my father's and the one who eventually accepted the call to Hope Valley in my place] had said to me just before I went on holidays that a call can really spoil things over a holiday. I said to Cathy that I was really feeling frustrated too, that my holiday had turned into a combination of work and attempting to carve out a future for us. I will have to do my best to organise for a few days off next week or the following week to make up.

Monday, 22nd January, 2001: In which I call myself a Catholic, and look to future employment

The past week has been very good for me in coming to terms with my chosen direction. As I was going to Mass on Saturday night down at Cowes, I realised that I was no longer a Lutheran in any real sense at all. I am a Catholic in every sense except officially. The lack of official reception into the church is important, but so is the fact that in my faith I identify with the Catholic Church, not the Lutheran Church. Given all that, the time has definitely come for me to resign my parish and take leave of absence. Only one thing is keeping me from resigning from the ministry altogether and that is that if I am offiicially a Lutheran pastor, I may have a better chance of consideration for ordination as a Catholic priest.

There were several good librarians’ jobs advertised in Saturday’s Age, so I have begun reworking my resume (it is rather out of date). I received several messages from Anthony Fisher saying he needed a c.v. for the Archbishop and Vicar General, so I have been working on producing such a document as well.

I asked Anthony two questions on the phone this morning:

1) should I be applying for secular jobs while I have thrown myself on the mercy of the Church? Answer: “Yes, there will be no offence. If you can get a better job than the Archbishop can provide, by all means, go for it. I will tell him I told you to do so.”

2) What about Fr Kerin’s information regarding the order of annulment, profession and communion? Answer: “It surprises me, but there may be some canonical possibility there that I am not aware of. I will talk to the Vicar General about it.”

Tuesday, 16th January, 2001 – Part E: In which I review my deliberations over the past year

(Still working from notes about the past week)

I began my journal with this quotation from Newman’s Apologia:

You may think how lonely I am. ‘Obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui,’ has been in my ears for the last twelve hours. I realise more that we are leaving Littlemore, and it is like going on the open sea.

And then I wrote:

Yet maybe I will listen to the call that Abraham heard: “Obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui...” What I need is a healthy dose of faith, instead of this “The Lord helps those who help themselves” philosophy I am used to working with!!!”

That could hardly be more appropriate at this point. Alison’s reminder to me of God’s call to Abraham is, I think, a call to trust God’s leading even in the face of this threat of an enforced “leave of absence”. Abraham had to leave his security and his boundaries, and follow the call of his God to go “to the land that I will show you”. The remarkable thing (well brought out in a film some years ago) is that his wife went with him! This is, of course, the remarkable thing now. Cathy trusts God’s call to me more than I do!

Then there is that old saying that was very important to me once, and of which P. reminded me early on:

Follow the truth where it leads.

What is True? Not just what is “loving and creative”, as my spiritual director used to say, but what is TRUE? That would be a good addition to my director’s ethical criteria. In this case, I think it is decisive. Strange that Cathy is of the opinion that to go to Hope Valley would not be the loving thing to do, and that, in a strange way, it may be more loving to her and the kids to follow my calling to the Truth and, ultimately, more creative too, in that it would lead to the attaining of unimaginable goals of both marriage and family AND (perhaps) Catholic priesthood.

Now this is greatly contrasted with Cathy’s original position. I had recorded that in the first week or so of my journey, Cathy had said
There’s no way I will be getting an annulment of my first marriage.

The fact that she is now engaged in this process, and willingly so, is perhaps one good outcome of this call.

Also of importance is Ratzinger’s comment in Called to Communion:

Perhaps we are now a little better able to comprehend what a turnabout faith entails--to grasp the re-versal, the con-version that it contains: I acknowledge that God himself speaks and acts; I recognise the existence not only of what is ours but also of what is his. But if this is true, if we are not the only ones who choose and act, but he too speaks and acts, then everything changes. Then I must obey, then I must follow him, even when he leads me where I do not wish to go (Jn 21:18). Then it becomes reasonable, indeed, necessary, to let go of my own taste, to renounce my own wishes and to follow after him who alone can show the way to true life, because he himself is the life (Jn 14:6). This is what Paul means by the cruciform character of discipleship, which he underlines at the conclusion of the reading as the answer to the Corinthian party system (10:17): I abandon my taste and submit myself to him. But it is in this very way that I am set free, because the real slavery is imprisonment in the circle of our own wishes.

Now, this “cruciform character” is what I think the District President calls “the theology of the cross”, yet here what is meant is more of a “take up your cross and follow me” rather than “God-working-in-hidden-ways” theology. To “abandon my taste”, ie. what I want, and to “submit myself to him” can only be thought of in the sense of following the truth that God has revealed to me through the Catholic Church.

“I must obey”. “I must follow him, even when he leads me where I do not wish to go.” I may wish to go into the Catholic Church, yes, but do I really wish to go into the uncertainty of “leave of absence”, unemployment, homelessness etc. with out any assurance that I will actually arrive at the destination to which I believe God is calling me? No way! Yes, I want to get to where he is calling me, but I would prefer it without the Cross. But I don’t think I can avoid it. Of course I can't.

Early on, Fr Denis said that he was “afraid” for me, that he “admired my faith and courage”. Now, at that stage, that was all very flattering, especially because I wasn’t particularly being required either to be faithful or to be courageous. Now I am being called to be both, and I don’t need anyone else to be afraid “for me”, I am doing a very good job of being afraid for myself!!!

I also wrote at the beginning:

Essentially, this call to the Catholic Church is something that will not go away if I ignore it. It is an old issue for me that has resurfaced precisely when my ministry is shaky. It is therefore a foundational issue for me, and I have to deal with it eventually. ... If...I turn back at any stage before I reach the point at which I can go no further, the question of whether I should be a Catholic will always remain unresolved.

And that is Cathy’s point exactly.

When I first told the District President that I was on the road to becoming a Catholic, he said to me, “Well, you must ask yourself whether, having even gone this far, you can still continue as a Lutheran pastor, or whether you should resign.” At that time I said to myself that “in one sense he is right—I am already experiencing great difficulties in functioning in my pastoral role.” At that stage though I was still thinking that “out of all of it, I might...emerge even more Lutheran than when I went in.”

This is not true now, I think. The time to resign my parish (if not my place on the roll of pastors) has definitely come. I recorded in this journal back on the 10th of June last year that I was wondering if the time to resign had come. I did not act then. Now, six months have transpired, and it seems that the time is finally here. A lot has happened since then—the Pastor’s Conference and Synod, the annulment process, preparation with Anthony, preparations with the Archdiocese. Yes things are quite different now. Maybe it is time.

Things would be different if I could be assured of being received into the Catholic Church (even as a non-communing member). I wonder now, having re-read my notes, what Fr Tony Kerin meant at the initial interview when he said: “It would, however, not to be necessary for the annulment process to be complete before you were professed and began communing, because you could show that you were doing all in your conscience to set the situation right.” I need to check this out further. If I could, on this basis, be received into the church, I would feel much more secure in making the step of resignation.

Back in June last year, on the phone from Queensland, my Seminary mentor had said to me: “Do you have any idea how much hurt you will cause a lot of people? And how hard this will make it for those of us who remain in the church, like myself and Pastor P., and Pastor D.B.?” At least with regard to P. this seems to be true already. Speaking to P. on the phone the night before I came down here to the Island (on the 13th of January) he said (in very subdued tones for him), “This raises a lot of issues for me”. Maybe he is also reflecting on John Fleming’s challenge to him when we were at dinner at the Holmes' home.

Back in June, my mentor also said: “Especially, since I know you are likely to want to make some sort of big romantic stand out of this, don’t resign, but take leave of absence to consider this.” Again, this seems like a prophecy come true. I don’t think I will resign—there does not seem much point in this if I cannot be immediately received into the Catholic Church—but it has come time to take “leave of absence”.

Then there was my spiritual director's suggestion of seeing a clinical psychologist (“but perhaps the psychological must be examined too”) which I never followed up. Cathy said to me last night that perhaps I should do this, because of the “security” and “boundaries” issues. But I might start first with the cheaper option of talking to the Counsellor who works at my parish church in Knox.

My director had also asked me to consider the possibility that, before I make the final decision, I should get all those whom I have spoken to about this situation together for a round table discussion along the lines of “Okay, give it to me straight.” Could this still be useful as a methodology for handling the current crisis???

Then, in my email to G., I had written:

You will be pleased to know that I have, in the last week, determined not to act upon this matter until: 1) my first marriage has been annulled and Cathy's marriage declared not binding, so that we can both receive the blessing of the church on our marriage, 2) I have a job to go to, preferably a ministry position (lay) in the RC church, 3) our next child has been born, 4) the three congregations of Knox, Frankston and Casey have sorted themselves out a little more than currently is the case. Hence, we are probably talking at least 2 years here.

Of all these prerequisites, only number three has been fulfilled, ie, Mia has been born. Nothing else has been settled. In this regard, taking leave of absence now is a bit premature.

Then, at the end of Synod, I wrote:

When I get home, I will begin preparation for my annulment application. I will hang around in the LCA until my annulment is granted and our marriage is blessed, and then I will move on. I will begin other procedural explorations as well. In the meantime, God grant me the grace to continue my ministry in good faith until it is possible for me to profess my faith as a Roman Catholic. I can’t stay in the LCA, I just cannot. To do so would be completely against the grain for me.

Well, it seems that this prayer for grace has not been granted. “The Old Man”, as my District President called God, is forcing the issue.

In August, after the Synod, I also wrote
I have felt quite despondent in the last few weeks. Above all, to be able to do this job, you have to believe in it.

The District President seems to have recognised that I have, in fact, lost faith in my own ministry. This is why he/God is forcing the issue.

Fr John Fleming once said to me “Trust Cathy”, and back in 1987 the guys sang a parody at our wedding:

Trust and obey,
for there’s no other way,
to be happy with Cathy but to trust and obey.

It was very funny at the time, but now both those words and the words of the original have come back to haunt me. I hate “Trust and Obey” as a song, probably because I am lousy at either trusting or obeying—but now I have to both trust and obey both God and Cathy!


A couple of days ago, I received a short letter from my Godmother and her husband. In it, she said:

We are glad, David, that you shared your deliberations with us. For me it made clearer some things I was hearing and others about which I have wondered for some time. In many ways I ponder why this discussion has been so long coming. In the end, what denomination you are makes no difference, but we remain concerned about your reasons. Keep in touch and all the best in your deliberations about your call to Adelaide.

In a sense, this was a good letter to get, but I know they disapprove of my reasons, and partly that is because to them “what denomination [I am] makes no difference”. Surely it would make a difference to them if I became Jehovah’s witness or Mormon or Muslim or something? So what is their criterion of truth? They have totally failed to think about what I was saying.

Tuesday, 16th January, 2001 – Part D: In which Cathy herself gives me an ultimatum!

(Still working from notes about the past week)

The next day (Friday 12th January) I spoke briefly to my second Frankston elder on the phone. He said that the other elder whom I had visited the day before had filled him in on the situation (I had given him permission to do this). All the second elder could add is that he agreed with the congregational chairman, that this was not quite the right time for me to go, and another two years would be good. He said that, in the 53 years he has been a member of the Lutheran Church, I was the best pastor he had ever had.

Friday afternoon, Cathy had invited her counsellor/spiritual director (who is the wife of another Lutheran pastor) to come over to talk through a range of issues through with her, including this call issue. I sat in for about half an hour with them. The counsellor tended to agree with Cathy’s assessment of the situation, and she pointed out all the biblical cases where people were called to leave home and family to follow the call of God with no assurances of the destination.

This rather forcibly reminded me of the words with which I began this journal (more than 38,000 words ago!). As a result, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon re-reading this journal from the beginning.

So now it is my intention to consider all that I have written so far, and to ask how (if at all) it can help me in the current crisis. Before I begin to do that, however, I will just add that yesterday afternoon (Monday 15th January), I went for a walk with Maddy and my dog Misha on the beach down here at Cowes. On the way, I realised that if my Spiritual Director were in favour of my turning down the call to Adelaide (as everyone else of significance seems to be), then I would not find it difficult to accept that I should stay. On the other hand, if Cathy had been in favour of the call to Adelaide (out of consideration for the well being of our family rather than wanting me to stay out of consideration for my conscience) then I would have no hesitation in accepting the call.

I told her this when I got home, and she said:

Make no mistake. I want you to stay here and sort out the Catholic thing precisely for the well being of our family. This issue has taken up too much of your time and energy. It has actually taken you away from time with Maddy, and Mia and me. All that time talking with P. and Peter Holmes on the phone, and late night meetings, and journaling and so on. I want it to be resolved so that we can get you back. If we went to Adelaide, things would be worse and not better.
I asked the question of why this call now, and not four years ago. I also asked her how she felt when she had to make big decisions such as leaving teaching. She said:
It didn’t occur to you then because you wanted a family and children [‘and you’, I added]. Now perhaps God is offering you the chance to have wife, and children, and the catholic church and priesthood. You may end up with everything you want, just because it all happened in this order. You just have to take one step at a time, that’s all.

Tuesday, 16th January, 2001–Part C: In which Fr Fisher confirms the President's Ultimatum, & Parish Leaders offer their 2 bobs worth

(Still working from notes about the past week)

The next morning (Thursday 11th January) began with my scheduled meeting with Anthony Fisher. I ran the whole story past him, reminding him that it was during a period of instability and stress that I made the decision to become Catholic, the way in which I had been challenged by the vacancy, and now by the call which I did not seek, Cathy’s reaction and John Fleming’s reaction; then my interview with the District President and the ultimatum which he put to me. I told him that I would enter Catholic Church here and now if I could, and that I could not imagine myself having to make the vows of the Lutheran ministry again (something that taking this call would require me to do).

He pointed out that

  • it was not canonically possible to go to Adelaide and continue the process of entry into the Catholic Church with Melbourne.
  • if I were to take the call to Hope Valley, it would not be just (to my new congregation/employers) to do so while continuing a process of entry into the Catholic Church.
  • to continue the process while ministering at Hope Valley would only increase my current “schizophrenia”.
  • therefore I could not really go, as the District President had pointed out, unless I could fully affirm my Lutheran identity.
  • if I were to decide to make such a reaffirmation, I could no longer continue such discussions as I have been used to having with Fraser, Peter, John Fleming and himself; in short, I would have to cease doing theology, because it would always bring me back to where I am now.
  • everything that I had related to him was fairly as he had expected it would be, except Cathy’s reaction. That was the most significant thing: that Cathy herself is now at a point where she fully supports me continuing my process into the Catholic Church, and has accepted her own part in it, regardless of the material and financial hardship that this will cause. This, he said, was most unusual in cases such as mine, especially given Cathy’s initial reluctance to be involved in the annulment process. (He pointed out that St Thomas More’s wife and family did not share his enthusiasm when he took his stand against Henry VIII).
  • it would be very strange if, in the process of my conversion, I did not have to face considerable threats and temptations, both internal and external, along the way.
  • they obviously have recognised my “quality” and want me to stay in the LCA, since they are offering both threats and prizes; if I were a complete nong, they would be saying, “Good bye and good riddance”.
  • to continue to serve in my current position for any considerable amount of time (eg. even for only one more year) would see an increase in the “schizophrenia” from which I am currently suffering, and, accordingly, an increase in stress.
  • Ultimately, he agreed with my District President. I either have to say “no” to the call, or I have to say “yes” wholeheartedly. I know for certain that I could not say “yes” with all my heart. With most of it, perhaps--but not with all of it.

    He also said: “I don’t personally believe in limbo, but you will, if you take this path, because you will be experiencing it first hand.”

    I finished by saying to Anthony that now seemed to be the time to invoke those “full episcopal assurances” they are always telling me that I have. Would Archbishop George [Pell] be willing to extend such help to a person who was not yet a Catholic, and may not ever be able to be a Catholic? Anthony said that he would now speak with George for me and see what he could do. I am not hopeful! In the mean time, I said, I will start reading the Saturday newspapers employment section! (There was nothing in this Saturday’s paper).

    Then I went down to work at Frankston. It was a 39 degree day, so I worked in the church hall where there was an air conditioner. One of the older members of the congregation came in for a chat. He said that however much he would like me to remain, St Peter’s would survive if I went. They had weathered worse crises than this, he said. That was very good of him.

    Then the congregational chairman came in to have his say. He was the most unhelpful person I have had to talk to yet. In Cathy’s words, “he hasn’t got a clue”—which really isn't his fault. He began by saying “You really have ask yourself what your personal goals and ambitions in the church are. Where do you want to be in the Church hierarchy in ten years time? For instance, do you want to be president of the district, or general president? [Seriously—he said this!] What about what is best for your family? Do you really want to be stuck in a dead end boring job working with old people where you would have no chance to exercise your talents in preaching, worship or teaching?” You get the picture... I wasted some breath challenging his perception of pastoral care of the aged, but so that he got the picture a little more clearly, I told him (in confidence) that there are other things going on in my life between me, God and the church that at this point could lead me to neither Adelaide nor continuing at St Peters. I did not elaborate—this seemed to confuse him, and he couldn’t really handle it. He went on to say: “I don’t think its time yet for you to go. Perhaps in 18 months, or two years, but not yet.” I was glad when he left. He was making me angry.

    Then I had an appointment with one of the two elders of the congregation and his wife. His wife had just had a cancer scare, but an operation a few days earlier had determined that it was a hernia in the lymph nodes, not a cancer. So I called on them with the thought that she would be confined to bed, and I could spend some time at her bedside, but then I could talk to the elder alone for a while. I have always valued his opinion. He is part native American, part French in his heritage, with the result that he has a different way of looking at the world. I also I trust his confidentiality. I planned to tell him the full story so that I could have at least one lay person's balanced view of things. In the end though, his wife was up and about (they were out in the heat smoking cigarettes—so much for the cancer scare!!!) and so they both joined in the conversation. Still, about 10 minutes into the conversation, I realised this would go nowhere if I didn’t give some evidence of the real problem, so, without naming the actual issue, I pointed out that there was a personal issue in my life, “between me, God and the Church” (as I had told the chairman) which demanded attention as a third option to either staying in my current position or going to Adelaide. This then, was a fairly profitable discussion. They at least realised that it wasn’t as straightforward as doing “what was best for my family”, and that really no extra offers of salary rises or other financial incentives (which they said they were going to offer me) would do anything to help me decide one way or the other in this case. In this discussion, the elder's wife helped me to realise for the first time that of the two options I was facing, continuing my process into the Catholic Church required faith, whereas going to Hope Valley would require no faith at all—one could say that the latter course of action would be almost "faith-less".

    It was a busy day, because after this visit I had a Berwick congregational council meeting at the Berwick chairman's home. I managed to address the call issue only from the point of view that a) if I did go they would be quite capable of coping with a vacancy, and b) whatever I do it is absolutely essential that they make putting call/parish arrangements their highest priority.

    Tuesday, 16th January, 2001 – Part B: In which I front up for an interview with my District President and am faced with an ULTIMATUM!

    (Still working from notes about the past week.)

    The next day, Wednesday 10th of January, was a big day for this call crisis. I went to see my the chairman of the Knox congregation at 9am, and asked him whether, in his opinion, this was a good or bad time to be leaving Our Saviour’s. (Note: I sought him out for this interview. No other member of Knox has volunteered or asked to talk with me regarding the call, whereas at both Casey and Frankston members have been anxious to discuss the issue). We realised that there were both positives and negatives. He reads the situation much the same as I do. Probably in the balance it would be good for Knox to have a change. Still, they are not currently prepared for a vacancy; and the parish arrangements are not in place.

    I then drove to Box Hill to keep my longstanding appointment with the District President. Just before going in to see him, I wrote in my note book:

    It is now clear to me that the only way forward (I can see at the present) that I feel would be really “right” is to both take this call and continue my process into the RCC in the Melbourne Diocese. This is not now a matter of what I want—other considerations (from what significant others have said) have shown that to decide against one or the other would be a wrong choice.
    This indicates that although John Fleming and Cathy had both told me NOT to take the call to Adelaide, I was still aching to do so, yet could not reconcile this with my other aching desire to enter the Catholic Church.

    I went into the President's office at 10:30am. He invited me to start off, but I lobbed the ball back into his court, and he began with his point of view.

    1) As he read my AGM report and sermons (which I had emailed to him about a month ago) he said he heard a “Quo vadis” cry from David Schütz: "Ministry in LCA" or "ministry elsewhere" or "not ministry at all"?

    2) He had had a phone call regarding the degree to which my preaching had changed at Knox, and the way in which I was taking my issues out on the congregation. Not liking anonymous phone calls as a method, I pressed him for the identity of the caller, and he told me (on the proviso that I do not let the individual know he told me) that it was one of my elders. So. This issue (which was raised at the last—disastrous—elders meeting back in November) must have been immediately reported to the President.

    3) He said that the vacant parish of Hobart in Tasmania had asked him for names of pastors to call, and that he had put my name forward.
    This last comment was quite a surprise—I had often thought I would like to live in Tasmania. Why are these temptations all coming now?

    Then he went on to say:

    All this leads to raise the question of the primary call to the ministry of the LCA and the secondary call as to the location where that ministry is exercised.

    Apparently, the Presidents had asked the Hope Valley Homes to consider a seminary graduate for their position (they still have one that they are trying to foist off onto someone), but they had refused.

    So now that you have this call, it is necessary to “test” the call.

    There have been significant changes of dynamic in your life since coming to Knox—divorce, remarriage, children. This tests your call to marriage and family life. Moving would test your call as a husband and a father.

    From a human perspective, this call to Hope Valley is a good match.

    Your time would much more manageable. It would provide time to read and to “produce” [I added “and to pray”]. Adelaide would thrust you into the hurly-burly of controversy and questioning and heighten your questions.
    Then I raised my deliberations from the day before, raising the issues of “integrity”, “security” and “boundaries”.

    Regarding “integrity” (which I said was “critical” in the whole issue) the President gave an opinion which differed from that of Pastor DB:

    Not going to Adelaide means not affirming the call to Knox. By that I mean, that usually when one turns down a call to another location, this is because one is affirming the call that one already has. But you would be turning down the call to Adelaide because you are pursuing the call to Rome. This raises the integrity of staying on at Knox. Not going to Adelaide would be rejecting Lutheran ministry.
    Regarding “security” and “boundaries”, he said:

    I have seen these issues in you ever since I have known you. These are unaddressed issues that will not be addressed by either Adelaide or Rome. When boundaries are no longer or improperly defined, our security/personhood is threatened by chaos. Monastery, Warradale, Hermannsburg, Hope Valley all offered or offer security in boundaries. Divorce, part-time ministry, Knox/Casey/Frankston all threaten boundaries.
    He also asked:

    So to what extent is your desire to enter Rome a desire for security and boundaries?
    At the time, I actually answered “none” to the last question, because of course, getting there means that my boundaries would have to be broken and I would have to enter into a good deal of insecurity, but of course, it is undeniable that there are clear faith boundaries and faith securities in Rome that do not exist in the Lutheran church or elsewhere. Still, what I immediately heard him saying is that the basic reason for my conversion to Rome is my inner personal need for security and boundaries, and I could just imagine him dismissing my conversion at some future pastors' conference as being the result of some inner problem (much as he did of Marco Vervoost's move to the Traditional Anglican Communion).

    So I told him straight out that if I go to Rome it will not be for “psychological reasons” (indeed, psychological reasons are why I want to go to Hope Valley), but because I have tried and tested the LCA and found it theologically wanting. Still, the President persisted and said that few of our motives are rarely without psychological dimensions. Again I interrupted him and said:

    That may be so, but the primary reasons are theological. Don’t you dare say when the conversion takes place that ‘David converted to Rome because of very deep-seated and unaddressed psychological needs etc.’
    I hope he took the point.

    We then returned to the issue of integrity. The President said:

    The question is not whether you stay on at Knox or go to Hope Valley, but whether you stay a Lutheran pastor or become a Catholic. I think you are saying to me that you have declined the call to Knox, and now you are struggling to decide whether you want to be Lutheran or Roman. If you say “no” to Hope Valley, you are saying “yes” to Catholic ministry, in which case you are throwing yourself into an even greater void: “They may not accept me.” Why did God call you into marriage when the call to monastic life was on the agenda? So the question now is, why is he calling you to Hope Valley when your call to Rome is so strong? Why were you led to answer God’s intervention re monastery and Hermannsburg in the way you did? Does that throw light on this decision...?
    Reflecting on that question now, I wonder if in fact that does not point me toward a resolution to stay and continue the process into the Catholic Church? As much as God has blessed me in my marriage, yet I imagine there will be a niggling call to the cloister in the back of my mind all my life. It was not, in the end, the direction in which God called me, but I do wonder that I gave up what was such a strong desire so quickly and totally. I certainly never fully dealt with this call. I just dropped it, in exchange for something much better. Can I just “drop” the call to the Catholic Church? I think Cathy is right at the point.

    Anyway, back to the interview. As I listened to him, I asked myself whether to accept the call to Hope Valley would not be selling my soul for the inestimable riches of security and personal and family boundaries? So I asked: “What about my conscience?” He replied:

    If conscience is the issue, then you should be asking yourself: “Why does God keep intervening just when you think a door is opening?” Is he saying to you: “David, I want you to remain a Lutheran and to help Lutherans claim their catholicity in all its fullness”? You are uniquely gifted by God with a sharp mind. If the Lutheran Church is going to make the journey I think it needs to make, it is not going to be led by fools, but by people with sharp minds who have tasted the vista from the other side with a longing that only you can give expression to. This is fronting you with the theology of the cross. In the midst of the impossible, at the cross roads, Christ confronts.
    At which point, I thought to myself: “Isn’t it strange that this call came up now. Only this call has the power to raise these questions for me and only at this time...”

    Just before the end of the interview (we had been going for about 90 minutes), I asked the question which turned out to be the most important and decisive question of the whole interview: “What if I were sitting here with you, and now it is February, and I have turned down the call...what would you be saying to me?” He replied:

    I would be asking you: ‘Where do you stand in your belief in Rome?’ If I heard you say what you have said today, I would suggest some leave of absence and time to consider that question. I don’t say that by way of blackmail. “Leave of absence” leaves the door open to return, but lets you work out your agenda between you and Rome, and not you, Rome and your congregation.
    While he prayed at the end of the interview, I began to weep—feeling much like I had in the Cathedral after my first interview at the Tribunal. The District President had significantly increased the stakes—or was it God? I found myself feeling like I was playing a game of cards, and the other player had played a hand that could be the winning hand and, at the same time, raised the stakes, so that I was now in the situation where, without much time to consider, I had to decide whether to cut my losses or to play on in the hope of winning.

    Straight afterwards, I went to P's office for my regular Latin meeting with him and Peter Holmes. I told them what the President had said. P. thought I was expressing the opinion that David was mad in presenting me with this ultimatum, and so said “That’s not unreasonable, Schütz”, to which I replied “I know that it’s not unreasonable, I’m just in shock that it has come to this at this point.” P. was then caught on the phone for the rest of the morning, and Peter and I talked together and went and got lunch together. Peter was good to help ease the pain and help me come to terms with what the President was demanding. The thing I kept asking Peter is whether or not I should simply capitulate and take the call—but wouldn’t that be like taking the 30 pieces of silver?

    Still, I asked, who would blame me if I did? “The question is not who else would blame you,” he said, “but whether or not you would blame yourself.” And I think the simple answer to that is yes; I would blame myself if I took the “easy” road.

    I phoned my spiritual director when I got home. He was somewhat angry at the President, saying that presenting me with this ultimatum in this was very characteristic of him, and asked me whether I thought that what he was proposing was the “loving and creative” thing to do. He raised the fact that I was facing the threat of having myself and my young family turfed out on the street, which was neither loving nor creative. He is still convinced that Hope Valley would offer a loving and creative opportunity for both me and my family. He feels that if I am to find any way of affirming Lutheran ministry, it will be once I get to Hope Valley, not before I go there. He keeps on reminding me to think of 1) my family and 2) the timing of God.

    Tuesday, 16th January, 2001 - Part A: (In which John Fleming puts the hard word on me & think through the Adelaide call)

    I am virtually working totally from notes that I have recorded over the last few days at the moment. We are still here at Cowes. I went up to the church this morning, thinking to say morning prayer there (I have, since Sunday morning, been saying all the offices) and found a mass in progress. It was a complete contrast to Sunday, as there were only two people other than the priest there, but after the mass, the priest ("Fr Feilan"--old and very Irish), chatted with me an explained that it was really a private mass on Tuesdays. He had a little pouch around his neck and a small purple stole on, so I figured he was on his way to do sick communions. He asked me if I were a seminary student, and I told him I was a Lutheran in the process of converting to the Catholic Church. I will go back tomorrow if I can for the regular mass at 9am. He allowed me to stay to pray morning prayer as long as I locked the door behind me.

    Reading morning prayer, I came across this passage from Isaiah 38 “Like a swallow or a crane I clamour, I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; be my security!” The relevance of that passage will become clear below as I continue to recount my deliberations.

    Now, to continue where I left off, relating the events at the dinner at the Holmes' with Fr John Fleming on Friday, 5th January.

    When I told John about my call, he immeadiately said, without hesitation: “You shouldn’t take it. You have begun the process of reception, you have been given full episcopal assurances. This is a rich diocese where what the bishop [George Pell] says happens, and he was the one who eventually made things happen for me. For yourself, this is now the second time you have faced the decision to convert. If you turn back now, you will be back again in years to come. Now trust God and follow your calling to the Truth.”

    So, that just about decided it for me. I told him as we were leaving that I would get a second opinion (from Anthony), but from that point on I have realised that I am not going to Adelaide after all. Whatever the virtues of a decision to take the call, my integrity would be in question.

    The word “integrity” only entered this consideration the next day, however, when I was talking to Pastor DB on the phone. He said breaking off the process at this point would do significant damage to my integrity “in an engineering sense”--by which I took him to mean not my own interior integrity, but the way my integrity would be viewed externally by others in both churches. He went on to remind me of what he had often said before, that God will bless whatever decision I make, just as a father blesses whatever good thing his son decides to do. In other words, “whatever you decide, that will be God’s will for you.”

    Still I was not at all comfortable with the fact that I was going to have to turn this call down. Some days later I was on my way between Martin Luther Homes and my chiropractor in Tecoma when it occured to me that this call was so attractive to me because it met some deep psychological needs in me. I wrote the following in the back of my travel log as I sat in the chiropractor’s waiting room:

    What needs does this call meet in me? Why is it so powerful? As a call, it seems almost/at least as powerful as the call to the Catholic Church.
    1) It gets me (and my family) out of a very stressful situation;
    2) I really do have a strong impulse to work in an enclosed community as part of a a pastoral care team, where my skills are valued (Something of the monastry in this? Prayer and worship life?);
    3) My call to pastoral ministry is still very strong--the chance to get away from the desk (although I enjoy that type of work, it isn’t very fulfilling) and into direct person to pastor pastoral care (nb. I ask myself my President’s question: "Do I desire this call because I can afirm my ministry? specifically in the Lutheran Church?" I don’t think so. It is almost that this call has a pull on my heart despite the fact that it is Lutheran);
    4) Would this call be more/less powerful if a) it wasn’t in Adelaide? More. b) it wasn’t Lutheran but Catholic? More.
    5) It provides a secure future--a career path--hence financial security also;
    6) Some part of me senses that it might return my family to me and me to my family; that this would give me time for them and for myself--perhaps that is the more accurate reading: My need for time... structured time? Clear “on/off” time?
    7) the need for clear, unambiguous job expectations which I know that I can fulfill.
    What is it then that I am trying to get out of in this “stressful” situation alluded to in 1) above?
    1) insecurity (future job and financial);
    2) lack of personal/family/structured time;
    3) no clear boundaries.
    The call to Hope Valley would seem to provide all of these.

    Monday, 15th January, 2001: In which I continue to wrestle with the Call to Adelaide

    Continuing my reflections from yesterday. This is what others have said:

    P. and Peter Holmes were initially of the opinion “Take this call if you can and still continue the process into the Catholic Church.” That was on the morning after I received the call--Wednesday week ago. I said, I would check this out with John Fleming at dinner on Friday night.

    Then, I asked my spiritual director to come around that Friday (5th January)--he spent all afternoon with me talking on the back patio.
    He raised the following points:

    • There was a chiastic relationship between me/Cathy and family/ministry, or, from another aspect, me/ministry and Cathy/family.
    • I should not to see this call egocentrically, as this may be just as much God’s offer of a new calling or new direction for Cathy as for me.
    • Family is an issue for Cathy--maybe this will be a time of stability, providing space to concentrate on our immediate rather than extended family.
    • The call would provide the structure my life needs
    • time with the pastor who was my partner at Warradale was a life saver during a past crisis--it could be again.
    • Shifting to Melbourne has been creative for my relationships with others, especially with Cathy (and here he reiterated his general ethical criteria that things are the will of God if they are both creative and loving). But Cathy has never moved--this “uprooting” may raise very significant feelings that need to be expressed.
    • In a year’s time, what might we wish that we had checked before making our decision? sit with Cathy and consider what this may mean for Cathy’s existence? my existence? Allow eachother time to have a voice.
    • Talk with another pastor’s wife about shifts that they have experienced.
    • There was a sense in which everything came together for me for a while in Melbourne--this time may be coming to an end.
    • The hardwork is too make sure that as much as possible Cathy gives voice to her feelings and to leave nothing unturned that may turn up a year down the track.

    I recalled to him that Cathy had, on several occasions in her conversations with others, used the expression “A sword hanging over my head/our heads” in relation to this call.

    My director also expressed the fact that he has been anxious for me regarding how long I could sustain simultaneous ministry in Knox/Casey/Frankston before I became unstuck.

    On the way to Pete and Susie Holmes for tea tonight with P. and his family and Fr John Fleming and his wife, I said to Cathy that I was inclined to take the call on the proviso that I could continue my preparation for entry into the Catholic Church in the Melbourne Diocese. This would also ensure that we would, after a period of a few years, return to the Melbourne fold. She said that this was quite a different proposal, and would be acceptable to her because it would mean that a) I would be continuing the process I had begun and b) we would not be away from Melbourne for ever.

    The meal was very enjoyable--and memorable, if for no other reason than that over the next few days everyone who was present there--except the Schütz-Beatons--came down with a terrible 24-hour gastric virus! ("It was the salmon mousse!") Unfortunately this meant that on Sunday (7th January), we were short one godfather for Mia’s baptism. P. was still critically ill at the time.

    John and Alison Fleming were very good company for us all. We plied them with many questions, and they did the same to us. John gave P. a particularly hard time over his hesitation to actively affirm the Catholic faith. P. objected that he needed a clear call to enter the Catholic church. John said: “I am a priest of the Catholic church and I am telling you to come.” P. also said that the fact that our seminary professor and mentor has remained in the LCA and continues to oppose conversion to Rome is a big factor. “How could he, who has been such a guiding light in my life be wrong?” “Yes,” said Fleming, “I acknowledge that he is a good man, a wise man, even a holy man, but he is wrong on this point. The pope is also a good man, a wise man, even a holy man. The only difference between your professor and John Paul II is that one is pope and the other isn’t. One has universal authority in the church and the other does not. Which one are you going to heed on this point?”

    Sunday, 14 January, 2001: In which I face an ultimatum, and list the pros and cons

    I am down at Philip Island, with Cathy and the girls, Cathy's parents, and her Uncle and Aunt. We arrived last night. I woke up at 9:20am and immediately dressed and went off on my own to mass at the local Catholic Church. Mass had begun at 9:00am, and I arrived just during the offertory. It was packed! At least 350 people there, with no more seats spare, and people standing or sitting on the floor at the back and in the porch; people of all ages and races. It was a powerful reminder to me that the Catholic Church is a living and dynamic community. Numbers alone have never impressed me, but here is the catholic faith in a living community--it was very reassuring.

    Especially because at this point in time, I am facing an ultimatum from my district president: take this call or take leave of absence.

    I have just re-read this entire journal (it has taken me all afternoon). Now, I am going to attempt to put down all the things that have taken place in the last 10 days or so (I have taken hand written notes of most conversations) including my interview with the president last Wednesday, and also revisit a couple of statements from the journal itself in the light of his ultimatum.

    First, here are some reasons that I should take the call to Hope Valley:

    • I would have support in my ministry from another pastor (and that pastor would be one whom I count a good friend and have worked with in the past)
    • Being a second (rather than senior) pastor.
    • New, spacious, well appointed home.
    • Full time position and salary (Lutheran Homes Incorporated are a “money no object” prospect).
    • Walking distance to all parishoners.
    • Clear boundaries to time and responsibility.
    • Proximity to my family (especially my grandmother) and Cathy’s cousins live there; and one of her oldest friends have just told her they are going to live there.
    • Able to develop Pastoral Care of the Aged as a career direction.
    • Three congregations nearby where Cathy could worship and be able to find work
    • but if Cathy cannot find work, she may give attention to herself and our daughters.
    • Sunday responsibilities would be moderate, allowing me to worship with my family in their congregation occassionaly.
    • Safe environment for the children and Lutheran schools are nearby.
    • Time and room to walk the dog!
    • For that matter--time full stop: to read, study, pray (Divine Office with John?), to spend time with my wife and daughter.
    • A two million dollar, liturgically well appointed, “to die for” worship centre.
    • My President wants me to take a call.
    • Time now to leave Knox, I reckon (and Casey?)

    I’m sure there are other reasons, but this will do for a start. In short, there is every human reason for accepting this call.

    Here are the reasons I should not accept the call:

    • Separation of the children from their Godparents
    • Cathy’s dislocation
    • Cathy is not willing to go
    • Distance from Cathy’s family
    • We would not be able to do what we are doing now, leaving Maddy with Mama and Grandad for a whole day--may require day in childcare if Cathy works.
    • I would be going back to the very theologically divided SA Pastors Conference and a district president with whom I would find it difficult to work.
    • Not the time to leave Frankston (or Casey?)
    • Extended involvment with families would require travel all over Adelaide, and sometimes, with funerals, requires travel to country.
    • I’ve started a process, and received full episcopal assurances in connection with that process, here in Melbourne.
    • A move to Adelaide will mean that I will not be able to continue my preparation for reception into the Catholic Church in Melbourne Diocese.
    • I would be required to make my vows as a Lutheran pastor again.
    • It would be unjust to my new employers if I accepted the call on the false pretence of being a “Lutheran” pastor.

    Those last four reasons are most significant.

    I have been at this all day, and have to take a break now.

    Wednesday, 3 January, 2001 - In which I face the greatest temptation of my life

    Things have been slow lately. Last night was Mia’s baptism preparation, and both Cathy's pastor (who is doing the baptism) and Mia's godmother knew about my journey but didn't know that the other knew. They were being a bit coy about the topic, until I told them both that the other knew.

    Parish matters have been taking first priority, as the congregation at Knox decided to keep their building (at a cost of $1000 a month) and the congregation at Frankston has sold theirs (for $500,000) and are moving in with the Uniting Church at Karingal in March. Then there was Christmas to get ready for. I found myself in church at Frankston on Christmas Eve thinking not only that this was the last Christmas service in this Lutheran Church, but that it might well be the last Christmas Service I ever took in the Lutheran Church. I said to Cathy when I got home on Christmas day that if the road to Rome means I spend a few years as a layman and don’t have to do the Christmas and Easter marathons, I won’t mind in the least!

    We went home on Boxing Day to Pinnaroo. There I had long discussions with Mum and Dad about my decision to enter the Catholic Church. Dad really is not very happy about it, and Mum says that she wishes that there was some way I could follow my beliefs and still stay in the LCA. Their own local pastor (with whom I was at seminary for a bit) came for a visit, and we had a long discussion about matters ecumenical, Catholic and Lutheran.

    He said a couple of things that I have put away in my kit-bag. Firstly, that many people mistake as arrogance, what is simply confidence, or the need for confidence. Hence, many would see Peter Holmes' questions regarding scripture and the epistemology of the Faith as “arrogant” when what Peter is searching for is confidence.

    Secondly, he very pointedly asked me the old stock question: “If you died tonight, where would you go?”. I said, “I don’t like that style of question, because it is posited in terms with which I do not agree, but be that as it may, the answer would be “Heaven”.” “How do you know?”, he said. “Because I am baptised”. “How do you know that Baptism will get you to heaven?”. “Because it has made me a part of the Christian Community, and the Christian Community has taught me to know that I have been baptised into Christ, and to know this Christ and what he has done for me. They have given me the scriptures and all the heritage of the church etc.”. “Right,” he said, “there’s your authority.” It was a good exercise. I don't think he intended it this way, but it affirms that I am doing the right thing in seeking the Church that is the true Christian community, and that I am seeking to put myself under its authority.

    On the way back to Melbourne, we stayed overnight with my godmother and her husband. After tea, I told them of my decision. My aunt said she had heard a whisper that there were some pastors in Melbourne (including me) who were inclining towards Rome. The discussion that followed was lengthy, and only ended at 12:30am (Cathy went to bed about 10:30, and my aunt at about 11:30, leaving her husband and I to talk).

    My aunt was not really sympathetic. She heartily agreed with me when I said that I do not feel any great loyalty to the Lutheran Church of Australia, but she disagreed with where I was placing me new loyalties--although she said she herself had once considered becoming Catholic, and could still do so, but it would be for very different reasons. She said that her understanding of Christianity was totally different from mine--she was referring to my emphasis on authority, whereas she preferred to put her emphasis on service. Yes, I said, I could understand that, and made it clear that my problem and my approach to answering that problem was not the problem or approach of a layperson, but of one who was committed with the responsibility of preaching and teaching the faith. I also pointed out that anyone who feels called to service, must recognise who it is that they are serving, and that such service implies an authority under which you serve (as in the Lutheran formula of absolution: “I, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, on behalf of my Lord, Jesus Christ...”).

    She also said that she did not need any authority to tell her what she already knew, namely, Christ and his love, God and his word. Here I took a different tack (making it clear that my purpose was not to try to win her to my understanding, but simply to help understand my decision), that she only knew these things through her Christian community (Greg Graham’s argument), and that this implies an authority that has enabled her to know.

    In truth, I don’t think she was very happy about it all. A bit disappointed. Where she has become more liberal in all her views over the years (except her bioethical views—which curiously is a point of contact between her and the teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church which she highly admires), I have become more conservative in my own views. We travelled home the next day, after spending time with one of our close friends, who is a pastor in Horsham.

    I was unwell for the Eve of the Third Millenium, and confined to bed. It has been very hot these first few days of 2001. Yesterday, as I was preparing to go up to Martin Luther Homes (where I knew there would be airconditioning and hence a much better working environment), I received a phone call from JH, the pastor with whom I had first worked when I was ordained in South Australia. He is now the head chaplain of a very large retirement village and nursing home in South Australia where my grandmother lives, Hope Valley Lutheran Homes.

    Now this call was not at all unexpected, but I had been trying to avoid it. You see, while at Horsham for the Chaplain’s conference in June, I spoke to the Hope Valley assistant chaplain and was conscious of the fact that he did not want to remain in that position for much longer. I told him at the time that he would be mad if he ever left, and if such an idea ever struck him, he should let me know and we could do a one month swap--and if he was lucky, I might let him come back! When he asked why I thought it was such a good position, I said to him: “How many nights out have you had to spend for your work there in the last month?” “None.” “Precisely my point.”

    Then he took a call to Murray Bridge as a school chaplain (the dolt!). And immediately I thought, “That is the one job I would most like to have in the LCA, if I were moving in other directions.” My time with JH at the Warradale parish in the early 1990's was one of my happiest periods in the ministry, and I would dearly like to work with him again, especially in those circumstances. Add to that that my Grandmother lives in the Homes, that my brothers live nearby, that my family home would be within a couple of hours' driving distance, that the manse is brand new (with air conditioning); that there are Lutheran schools nearby for the kids, that the work would be rewarding and satisfying (a kind of work in which I have a mild interest, if not a burning passion, and some experience), that there would be very strict limits to the “parish” where all the "members" would live within walking distance, that there would be only one place for services on Sunday (only one service?), that there would be no evening commitments, that the job is now full-time (I am still only 0.875 time here), and above all, that I would be working as second fiddle to JH, who, as senior pastor, would take the brunt of the organisational and pastoral decisions (much as he did at Warradale), and the result seems to be a perfect score of 10 on the scale of 1-10 for plum jobs in the LCA. It beats “being West of Woopwoop”, as Cathy put it (and as I said, it wasn't Hermannsburg! [I turned down a call to the central Australian mission of Hermannsburg—west of Alice Springs—in 1996 in order to marry Cathy]).

    BUT...and a very big BUT...Cathy does not want to leave Melbourne, and I want even more to enter the Catholic Church (I think....).

    So I intentionally did not ring JH or show any interest in the position. I thought, if it is God’s will, then maybe a call will come, and then maybe I will have to consider it. If not, then it is definitely not God’s will for me, matter closed. So I left it. Cathy and I talked about it from time to time, but that was it. Then I read President Semmler’s newsletter on Sunday and saw that another pastor had received the call. “Good,” I thought, “that proves it wasn’t for me.” Then I noticed on the same page at the bottom under “Calls declined” that the same pastor had turned it down. Oh dear.

    Then came JH’s call yesterday morning. I knew immediately what it was about. “Were you serious back in June when you said you would like my assistant's job?” They were to have a call meeting that afternoon, and he wanted to put my name forward. “Yes,” I said, and I told him about my discussions with Cathy recently about the vacancy, “but there is a complication.” So I told him about my desire to enter the Roman Church, and the complications involved. Still, I said, if he wanted to put my name forward, he was welcome to, and if they called me, I would then give it the most serious consideration as a call from God. (Actually, “temptation” from God might be more blasphemy intended.)

    So I went up to MLH to work among the old folk, and mentioned the possibility of going to Hope Valley to the head of nursing up there, who said that although they would be sad to lose me, she could see that this would be a great opportunity to really do something to develop Aged Care Chaplaincy in the LCA. Then I went home, and forgot about it as I worked through the afternoon. A phone call came at about 5:15pm from the new president of South Australia saying that I now had the call. Apparently I was the most highly desired among all the candidates (“by a long way”), and they were especially impressed that I rode a motorcycle--“someone with a bit of life in him”, they said!

    I went in and told Cathy what had happened. We talked for about quarter of an hour, outlining a few issues. She reckons this is God testing my resolve to enter the Catholic church. She is convinced that if I took the call, it would simply be a panacea to the pain, a bandaid measure that would eventually prove insufficient to answer my questions. (I said that it would probably be a postponement rather than a rejection of the Catholic option.) On top of that, she has no desire whatsoever to leave Melbourne--her church, her work, her family and her extensive network of friends built up over a lifetime. She would rather go through all the rigmarole of annulments and my entry into the Catholic church than shift. That is quite clear. But she said we would have to write up all the pluses and minuses and take a good look at the options. In the meantime, I would have to talk to a lot of people and do a lot of praying.

    So then I rang my local District President to inform him (I will be seeing him next Wednesday on a prearranged visit in any case), the three chairmen of my three parishes, Fr Anthony Fisher (I spoke to his answering machine to get an appointment real soon), my spiritual director (with whom I will now meet on Friday afternoon), Peter Holmes and P. (with whom I am meeting this morning). I have told them all that I will give my decision on the 28th of January--the limit of my four weeks, and after my holidays.

    This morning I rang my parents. Dad, I think, is very pleased with the call and definitely wants me to take it. He is annoyed at “partners who stop pastors from taking calls”, but Mum said that we have to take all that into account. Dad did a lot of talking (even interrupting me--so he must have been fairly excited by the idea that I could take a call to Adelaide), and Mum hardly any (which seems to suggest that she didn’t know what to think). I will have to ring JH and a few others to let them know, and see where to go from here.

    This will be a real test. The truth of the matter is, that if I had not decided to become a Roman Catholic, I would jump at the chance. I would say to Cathy: “I know your objections, and I know how difficult it would be for you, but I cannot sustain my ministry here--the work is too much for me, and it is not good for us or our relationship. At the same time I will have to take a call sometime, and there is little likelihood that I will get another call in Melbourne, nor would I have any reason for wanting to adopt another poor struggling suburban parish when that is exactly what I have at the moment. The likelihood is that when a call does come, it will be to somewhere “west of Woopwoop”, and not in a capital city with lots of thriving Lutheran Churches built on exactly the St Paul’s model where you could worship and find work. So we are going. End of story.” I am sure it wouldn’t be that simple.

    But the reality is that I believe God is calling me away from the Lutheran Church altogether and into the Catholic Church, even though if there was going to be anything one thing that could tempt me away from that resolve, it would be this call to Hope Valley. So the decision would be very straight-forward--IF I could be fully assured that I will eventually be received into the Catholic Church. Herein lies my greatest fear--what will happen if, in the final analysis, I cannot enter the Catholic Church, that is, if either my first marriage or Cathy’s is declared to be valid and binding in the eyes of the Church? What then? Then I am back to the situation that I am in at the moment, and the one option that would make being a Lutheran pastor bearable for me would have been passed up all together.

    I am facing a decision--a cross-roads--now that is greater than the decision I faced four years ago in December 1996 when I had to toss up between life in the desert in Hermannsburg and remarriage. And to tell the truth, I think that the decision I will make on this call will have an even greater impact on my life than that decision has had.

    O God, help me. Kyrie, eleison. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

    Wednesday, 15th November, 2000 - In which it all comes unstuck and the world crashes down on me. Almost.

    Just when all seems certain, your world comes crashing down around you. That’s what it seemed like to me today. Cathy had her interview at the Tribunal this morning. I offered to come in with her and to bring Maddy as well as Mia. While Cathy (with Mia) was in the Tribunal office, Maddy and I went first to the Cathedral, then to the Liturgy Office book shop in the Cardinal Knox Centre, and finally to the Fitzroy Gardens opposite the Cathedral to play. It was a beautiful sunny spring day, and we had packed a picnic lunch to have later. I expected Cathy to take only about 1/2 an hour, but it was an hour and a quarter before she met us. I asked how it went, and she said, “Well, its an annulment, not a disolution” --“What! Why? Your first husband wasn't baptised!” -- “Yes, he was, as a Mormon” -- “But that doesn’t count” -- “Yes it does.”

    It seems, as I discovered later today from Fr John Fleming, that Mormons use the correct Trinitarian formula when baptising people in water, and that means that it Rome considers it a valid Christian baptism, whatever the Mormons believe. Amazing. But this news had the effect of pulling the rug out from under my feet. This was precisely what Cathy didn’t want and what I was hoping to avoid for her sake.

    Apparently, when the interviewer looked at her list, she saw that “Mormon” was on it. She then double-checked with the Vicar General before announcing that if Cathy wanted to keep going in this direction she would need to have an annulment. Cathy was naturally upset, but took the offered opportunity to change the interview into an initial interview for an annulment.

    We didn’t talk much about this during our picnic lunch. I was glad it was such a beautiful day, and that we had a little leisure just to assimilate this new situation. Maddy enjoyed chasing the seagulls and walking through “the jungle” in the gardens. We went to the playground, and finished off our time there with chocolate ice-creams before returning home.

    On the way home, Cathy was wondering out loud about witnesses for her application. I didn’t want to push her into a committment to go ahead. At one stage, I said “Well that’s it then. Perhaps I should just accept that it is God’s will that I don’t go ahead with this”, but Cathy replied: “But what will you do then?” which is exactly the question I have been asking myself for the rest of the day.

    When I got home, I tried ringing Fr Denis Stanley, but he is in Canberra until tonight. Fr Anthony Fisher is overseas, so I tried ringing Fr John Fleming. John was out, but rang me later when I was down at the office. I was glad to talk to him. He did the research to discover that the reason Mormon baptism was recognised is because the formula is right. It was an education for both of us.

    He gave me one very good bit of advice. He said “Trust Cathy”. Yes. This is exactly what I have to do. She has been supportive of me so far--she will, in her own time and in her own pace, decide and do what is best for us. I need to trust her in this--to lay off the pressure, to assure her of my love. Who knows? the process of annulment may even be beneficial for her.

    But I do find myself wondering again and again: What if it doesn’t work? What if one or the other of us cannot get an annulment? What if I cannot become a Roman Catholic--then what? I am convinced my other two options--put on blinkers or try to change the LCA--would both be fruitless. But I cannot be professed as a Roman Catholic if my marriage is not regularised.

    One thought that occured to me is that I could try to find some other means of employment and at least live and worship as if I were a Catholic, even if I could not be received into it. But that is last resort stuff. I need to trust God and trust Cathy. How apt the song was that the boys sang for me at our wedding supper:

    Trust and Obey,
    for there’s no other way,
    to be happy with Cathy/Jesus
    but to trust and obey.
    I hate that song--probably because I am a lousy at either trusting or obeying--but now I have to do both. That and a huge dose of patience.

    Sunday, 5th November, 2000: In which Cathy begins her dissolution process, I meet with Fr Fisher, and I'm bailed up by a Parishioner

    During the week, Cathy rang the Tribunal to make time for an interview to begin proceedings for a dissolution of her previous marriage. She has an appointment for the 15th, and will go without me. She has to produce three character references for herself, and I have to do the same. I am asking Fr Denis, Fr Anthony, and my spiritual director. She is asking her pastor from St Paul's, and [two other friends]. The last two know already what I am doing, but this was the first time Cathy's pastor will have had his suspicions confirmed. When Cathy talked to him on Friday, he did not make any comment.

    I had a meeting with Fr Anthony on Thursday, the last meeting for about a month, as he left for Guam on Saturday. We talked about Cathy’s dissolution application. I asked him for a character reference. He was more than happy to do this. He was also going to contact the tribunal just to “oil the wheels” a little by letting them know my situation. I also asked if he had taken my conversion up with anyone in authority in the Church. He said that the Vicar General [Denis Hart] knows, and that he was going to have an interview with the Archbishop [George Pell] on Thursday night. One of the topics on the agenda of his meeting was “the Lutherans”. He said that George probably didn’t know yet what this was about, but he would afterwards. He asked me what I wanted him to tell George--for instance, he was going to raise the question of my financial needs following my reception into the Church. He asked if I wanted him to raise the issue of priesthood. I told him to say that I was concerned 1) for financial security for my family, 2) that I should be able to serve the Church in some capacity, and 3) that I would leave it to George’s discretion as to whether this would be as a layman, deacon or priest. Anthony agreed that he thought this would be the best approach. Peter Holmes also met with Anthony later that afternoon, and he was also going to include Peter in his chat with George. I received a phone message on Friday to contact Anthony on his mobile to find out what transpired, but I couldn’t get onto him, and by Saturday morning, he had already left. Can I stand the suspense for a month???

    I think Peter has moved a long way in recent weeks. He is on his way in, I reckon. He will probably get there before me. We talked together on the phone on Friday about P. It is SP’s suspicion that P. has never faced the question with true personal “angst” but that the issue if for him mainly an intellectual one. I put this to P. when he, his wife and son came around for tea last night. He said that he agrees, although he can see it becoming more of a personal issue soon.

    Today was not the easiest of days on the parish circuit. At Casey, one of my parishioners bailed me up for being “too Catholic”. She believes that being Protestant is essential, and furthermore that being Lutheran means not being catholic. I said that I cannot hold this position. She asked me whether I thought the Lutheran and Catholic churches should reunite, and I said “yes, this is what I am working for”. To which she said “Not in your lifetime”. She is probably right. She was concerned that my “being catholic” was actually off-putting for those who wanted a “Lutheran” service. It did not help for me to try to tell her that I was not an isolated case in the Lutheran Church and that there were many others who held the same understanding of the Lutheran Church as "evangelical catholic". I felt more than a little rattled by this.

    I ended up sending her and all Casey people a copy of my Reformation Sunday sermon, which was only preached at Knox and Frankston. I believe in this sermon I addressed the issues openly and honestly. I have had only positive feedback so far on this, although I know that this sermon is “doing the rounds” at the moment in printed form, and there will probably be some backlash before long.