Urban Theology starts in Sydney

22 Oct 2008

By The Record

Yet another group of young Australians have started up a forum to have Church teachings discussed in local pubs.

Spelling it out: Sydney Auxiiary Bishop Julian Porteous addresses the inaugural Urban Theology session at the Brooklyn Hotel in Sydney on October 14, while its organiser, Sky News Business Channel journalist Ky Chow, watches on in the background. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

By Bridget Spinks
Equipping young Catholics with knowledge on the nature of life of the human person is critical to the Church’s mission, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous told a packed function room in a pub on October 14.
He was addressing the second theology initiative to be held in a pub in Sydney, called Urban Theology, at the Brooklyn Hotel, down the road from St Patrick’s Church, Churchill on the city circle train line, which has a thriving young adult network.
For over 90 minutes, Bishop Porteous held almost 100 savvy youth riveted, saying that, in the wake of World Youth Day, bringing our faith to the marketplace (which today is the pub) is what the Church needs to do now.
“I suggested the topic because I think we need to get back to basics and understand the nature of human life,” the prelate said. “These are critical issues young people get asked about in the tea room and at uni,” said the Episcopal Vicar for Renewal and Evangelisation, whose own interests are as diverse as his audience – long-range walking, swimming, tennis and following the Wallabies national rugby team.
“We need to clarify them now so we get the core ideas right – that is: the nature of the life of the human person and the nature of human life.”
He said that the Church and science are not in competition with each other.
“The Church has infallibly defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing,” he said quoting the Canons on God the Creator of All Things, Canon 5.
“Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.”
“Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul,” Bishop Porteous said.
The talk began by explaining classic (non-Catholic) approaches to the universe including Dualism, Manacheanism (which St Augustine followed for a while), Gnosticism and Deism before discussing the Catholic position on the universe and the creation of man and woman.
“Humanity is made in the ‘image of God’. Of all visible creatures, only human beings are able to know and love God,” the 59-year-old prelate said.
“We are the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake and we alone are called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life.”