BRISBANE, Australia, March 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — An Australian archbishop has angered Catholics by criticizing two cardinals who have been outspoken advocates of orthodoxy.
Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, tweeted yesterday that he wished Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong, who has been impassioned in his support of the persecuted underground Catholic Church in China, would smile.
“Things can be tough in China, I know,” he conceded, “but I just wish the Cardinal would smile once in a while.”
Archbishop Coleridge was reacting to a photo of Zen on an article about the cardinal’s strong opposition to the Vatican’s impending deal with China’s Communist government.
Things can be tough in China, I know, but I just wish the Cardinal would smile once in a while.
— Archb Mark Coleridge (@ArchbishopMark) March 1, 2018
The response to the archbishop was swift and severe.
“Things can be tough being so snide about fellow Catholics,” tweeted one critic, posting decidedly grumpy photos of the Australian prelate, “but I just wish the archbishop would smile once in awhile.”
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Another tweet demanded to know how the archbishop dared to “trivialise” Zen’s worries.
“How dare you trivialise the matter?” the poster demanded. “Millions of Chinese Catholics have endured 70 [years] of persecution and all you can say is this. The tweet is beneath contempt [and] you own the man an apology.”
“It’s easy to smile and laugh it up when you’re safe,” observed another.
“Can’t believe I’m reading this from an archbishop,” wrote a particularly angry reader. “And you wonder why the hierarchy has no credibility? Why youth are leaving the Church? It’s because of this absolutely spineless, cowardly behavior towards those who wish to preserve the faith. Disgusting!”
Coleridge’s tweet was “liked” by liberal theologian Massimo Faggioli, a choice that was not lost on readers.
The Archbishop of Brisbane also courted controversy last week when he tweeted an observation that Cardinal Robert Sarah, the African author of The Power of Silence, “talks and writes a lot”:
“With respect, it strikes me that for a man committed to ‘le pouvoir du silence’ His Eminence speaks and writes a lot…” he wrote.
Coleridge was rewarded with the observation that few Australian clergy, “particularly in Brisbane,” were fit to clean Cardinal Sarah’s shoes.
With respect, it strikes me that for a man committed to “le pouvoir du silence” His Eminence speaks and writes a lot…
— Archb Mark Coleridge (@ArchbishopMark) February 24, 2018
Published in April 2017, Cardinal Sarah’s The Power of Silence is still among the top thirty Catholic books on the Amazon bestseller list. His book God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith was published in 2015 and is still among the top 25 religious biographies on the Amazon list.
Sarah, who is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has been arguing for a greater attention to holiness at Mass and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. Most recently, he warned that elements of the Catholic Church in the western world are betraying the faith.
The Archbishop of Brisbane was among those bishops advocating a reform agenda at the Vatican’s Synod on the Family. In 2016, he criticized Cardinal Raymond Burke and the other prelates asking Pope Francis to clarify Amoris Laetitia. These prelates, said Coleridge, are seeking a “false clarity.”
“At times at the synod I heard voices that sounded very clear and certain but only because they never grappled with the real question or never dealt with the real facts. So there’s a false clarity that comes because you don’t address reality, and there’s a false certainty that can come for the same reason.”
When Amoris Laetitia was promulgated, Coleridge tweeted that it “subverts absolutism.”