The serving bishops of the Catholic and Anglican dioceses have met annually since the tri-diocesan covenant was signed in 2008. The Two Bishops’ Dialogue aims to be a vehicle for engagement with the local community on spiritual, religious, ethical and theological issues.
Bishop Bill Wright from the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and Bishop Greg Thompson from the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle demonstrated once again that they are pragmatic and in touch with contemporary societal matters, as the pair took turns in leading the discussion on health and wholeness.
It became obvious that they both agreed that there’s a belief in the community that health relates to the body but that really health encompasses much more than the body.
“It’s common to hear people say ‘As long as you’ve got your health, that’s all that matters’, which implies that those people who don’t have their health are missing the main thing in life”, Bishop Bill said.
Bishop Thompson agreed, saying, “Healing is more than overcoming sickness.”
Following the discussion which covered topics such as addiction, self-harm, anxiety, stress, depression, disability, aboriginal health, and the process of healing, the dialogue was opened up to the audience with a Q&A. No topic was off limits and saw five members of the audience stand to speak about issues dear to them including mental health; asylum seekers held in Australian detention centres; victims of sexual abuse; and the role of church rituals and sacraments in healing.
Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries from the Catholic Diocese, Teresa Brierley, closed the dialogue by asking the audience to think about what they can personally do for young people, refugees and asylum seekers, those in prisons, and those affected by mental illness, for the bishops can only lead with us, not for us.
The event concluded with a ritual performed by Bishop Wright and Bishop Thompson; guests were invited to be anointed by their bishop of choice as a symbol of healing.