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Priest defends comments on crucifixion

A Sunshine Coast priest has been accused of undermining church teaching by arguing that the crucifix should never have become the symbol of Christianity and that Jesus would have been crucified naked.

Fr John Dobson of Caloundra in Queensland made the comments in his column in the Sunshine Coast Sunday newspaper last month.

He has been attacked by Max Lynch, head of the Sunshine Coast Catholic Advocacy League head and editor of the Catholic newsletter Lepanto, described by the Courier-Mail newspaper as 'fundamentalist'.

Mr Lynch said Fr Dobson had overstepped the mark by making comment that was not indicative of Catholic principles and teachings.

Fr Dobson's remarks were made in the context of the current debate about sexuality of the clergy, in which he advocated a greater understanding of the power of the Christian message.

He wrote that the fascination of sexuality in a negative form has long been a feature of Christianity and that the crucifix had been rendered unauthentic by this negative sexual mindset.

"Most certainly Jesus would have been crucified naked, as was the Roman practice," Fr Dobson wrote. "At some stage it was decided that Jesus' sexuality must be covered up, and so he was draped in a loincloth, which somehow would make him more presentable in polite Christian company!

Fr Dobson said the crucifix should never have become the symbol of Christianity because it was a means of execution.

"If Christianity means life it is the resurrection that is our real symbol," he wrote. "But maybe the crucifix is the appropriate symbol for such negative, confining thinkers who are terrified to think in a more lateral, open way.

Describing Fr Dobson's statements as weird, Mr Lynch said copies of Lepanto detailing the controversy had been sent to three senior Vatican cardinals, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Fr Dobson said last night that he had received positive feedback about his column, which he had been writing for 12 years, with many people commenting it had helped them understand their faith.

He said while he had demonstrated his loyalty to the church as a priest of 32 years but by contrast Mr Lynch was "very disloyal" and his group was not an accredited organisation within the church.


Archdiocese of Brisbane | Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Caloundra
Sunshine Coast Daily

28 Aug 2003