Post Script and Official Letters of Resignation

I began this journal by talking about Newmans' quotation of God's words to Abraham: "Leave your father's home and your country and go to a place where I will show you."

Have I arrived at that place? I think the answer is yes and no, much as it was for Abraham himself. Abraham arrived at the promised land but never had any permanent abode there. He was a wandering Aramean. Maybe it will not be me, or my children, or even my children's children who finally find a permanent abode in the Catholic Church. I might be a wanderer in the Church, a wayfarer for the rest of my life, just as Abraham was. Yet I have glimpsed the promised, I have seen the land, I have benefited from its fruits, and I will never leave there.


7th May 2001

President, LCA--Victoria District

Dear Pastor,

Please accept my resignation from the public ministry and membership of the Lutheran Church of Australia, effective from the receipt of this letter.

I am endeavouring to sell my car so that I may be able to repay my LLL car loan in full as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

David Schütz


7th May 2001

President, Lutheran Church of Australia

Dear Pastor,

It is with regret and sadness that I forward to you a copy of a letter that I have today posted to the president of the Victorian District. I understand it to be correct procedure to send the resignation to the district president. He is and has been fully aware over the last year of the events that have led to this decision, but I wish to fill you in a little more personally.

In my early years at the seminary, some 15 years ago, I underwent (what I have come to call) my first “catholic conversion”. At that time, I became convinced that it was essential for me not only to be a Christian, but to hold and practice the “true catholic faith”, without which I could not be saved (as the Athanasian Creed reminds us).

Although at first this conversion manifested itself in a strong desire to join the Catholic Church, I came to believe that I could fulfill my obligation to the catholic faith by being an “evangelical catholic” in the Lutheran Church. I also decided that the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” of the Nicene Creed was an article of faith rather than a visible society upon earth.

With greater or lesser success, I lived by this creed until last year. The intervening decade had seen two great changes within the LCA: the introduction of Church Growth theology and methodologies, and the movement for the ordination of women. The former has undermined the liturgical life of the church, and the latter has eventually come to pose a real threat to the doctrine and authority structures of the LCA. These issues were enough to make me re-examine my thoughts on catholicity. Two pastors especially challenged my ecclesiology, and I found that it just did not stand up. The way in which the Augsburg Accord was (or, more to the point, was not) received by the Lutheran Church also made an impression. With regard to women’s ordination, by Easter 2000 I had serious questions about a church in which it was possible to repudiate former binding doctrine and replace it with an entirely new teaching and practice on the basis of a Synodical vote.

I wish to make it clear that I asked these questions “as a Lutheran pastor”, and not as one already consciously converted to Rome. But as I re-read all the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue material from both the local and US dialogues, I found myself agreeing more and more with the Catholics than the Lutherans. Before long, I began to suspect that I was, in reality, a Catholic, and that my Lutheranism was in fact nothing other than an inherited context.

After the Tanunda Synod last year, I began to actively explore the Catholic faith by seeking direct dialogue with Catholic priests. Despite his own claims to the contrary, I did not do this without the District President's knowledge. Doubts about the Lutheran confession of faith grew--and concerns about the supposed “errors” of the Catholic church dwindled. I found myself asking the question “Why am I not a Catholic?” rather than “Why should I be a Catholic?”.

Yet it was not until I received the call to Hope Valley in January, that I realised that I was unable to accept this call, and, conversely, that I was unable to reaffirm my call to the Knox parish. My only alternative was to resign, and I took this step immeadiately. To do anything else would have been to place my integrity in question.

Still, some have questioned my integrity. Although I have resigned my parish, it is clear that some believe that I am being duplicitous (or trying to “have a bet both ways”) by holding on to my identity as a Lutheran pastor while actively exploring becoming a Roman Catholic. I will not have my integrity questioned, especially on the basis of lack of information or mis-information. Nor can I accept the stricture of the Victorian District Church Council banning me from giving an account of my catholic faith to any member of the LCA (including, one presumes, my own immeadiate family).

Therefore, I am tendering my resignation. There is grief at this decision, to be sure. I have benifited so much from my life-long fellowship in the LCA and within the pastorate. I have regarded many pastors as friends, not just as colleagues in the ministry. I hope that where there has been friendship, my decision will not alter these relationships. At the same time, I wish you and all the pastors of the LCA every blessing for the future as you minister to one another and to the flocks in your care.

Some have asked whether it is my intention to seek ordination as a priest in the Catholic church. Let me simply say that this is a very distant (if not non-existant) possibility, and that I would rather just take one step at a time. My marital situation (divorced and remarried to a divorcee) makes even full communicant membership in the Roman Church impossible without two annulments. However, I have been graciously welcomed into the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ringwood, where I am employed as their liturgical music coordinator, and I have placed myself under the pastoral direction of the parish priest, Fr Gregory Pritchard, who has acted very pastorally toward me in this time. I am living as much as a Catholic as possible now, and I pray for the day when I may be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome.

I give you my thanks for your ministry as President, and I pray for the future of the LCA.

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20,21)

Yours in Christ,

David Schütz

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