Psst. Wanna buy a used Tabernacle?

Sounds a bit sleazy, doesn’t it? Well, not if you’re in the business of selling off valuable sacred objects as happened recently in country Victoria.

Ballarat’s Bishop Paul Bird decided to sell off one of the Diocese’s prized possessions – well, it obviously wasn’t that highly prized – the lovely old St Joseph’s church at Learmonth.

Apparently the Tabernacle went for the bargain price of only $900. Imagine that.

One’s blood is still boiling. That invaluable structure which held Our Lord’s Sacred Body for almost 150 years is now most likely a drinks cabinet in some entrepreneur’s man cave or worse, is being used for some nefarious purpose by satanists.

Have these bishops no shame at all?

That reminds me of a little joke, actually.

It’s a bit grim.

Do you get it?

Now maybe I’m being too cynical.

Perhaps a reader will let me know that a rigid young priest bought the tabernacle as he’s trying to tradify his basketball court of a sanctuary before the next Motu Proprio is released.

We live in hope.

The lovely old building was flogged off on December 7th, just one day before the end of the Year of St Joseph. At least some of its artefacts, including a statue of St Joseph, have ended up in a Melbourne church, which is something, I suppose, as the church is a Catholic one. Did the parish priest have to pay for those, I wonder?

Which is more sad? An empty Church …..
…. an empty sacristy…..
…. or a Tabernacle that’s about to be sold off to the highest bidder? (Or maybe it’s that Cranmer pool-table in the foreground.)

It wouldn’t be a surprise, if he did have to pay. The Diocese of Ballarat, which formerly owned St Joseph’s, has had money problems for some time. That’s what tends to happen when dioceses cover up the sexual abuse of children for decades then follow it up by convincing Catholics that Mass isn’t important anymore. The encore to such a performance is usually episcopal pearl-rattling when the finance department realises that without all those pious posteriors on seats, a diocese soon becomes insolvent.

Admittedly, St Joseph’s five parishioners were sad to see their church closed and sold off. One of them valiantly exercised the virtue of hope by suggesting that the building should become an art gallery.

And yes, that is, in fact, allowed under Canon Law, which states that a Church may be sold to someone who will not use it for any sordid reason.

Then again, that would depend on what kind of art is being displayed there, wouldn’t it?

After she was buried the priest came in—I was there alone. I don’t think he saw me—and took out the altar stone and put it in his bag; then he burned the wads of wool with the holy oil and threw the ash outside; he emptied the holy water stoop and blew out the lamp in the sanctuary, and left the tabernacle open, as though from now on it was always to be Good Friday. I suppose none of this makes any sense to you, Charles, poor agnostic. I stayed there till he was gone, and then, suddenly, there wasn’t any chapel there any more, just an oddly decorated room.

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

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