More on St. Mary’s in Brisbane, Australia. More on the background here.
Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby has written to the administrator of St Mary’s in South Brisbane threatening to start "a formal process" to address the situation if changes are not made by December 1.
The Australian reports the parish looks set to be excommunicated after the local priest, Fr Peter Kennedy, said yesterday he would not change his ways despite being warned to do so by Church authorities.[That approach generally doesn’t produce good results.]
The archbishop wrote to the parish in September drawing attention to practices that placed St Mary’s "not in communion with the Catholic Church", and giving them until the end of the year to respond.
But in a second letter last week, Archbishop Bathersby said several undertakings had not been honoured and that "games are still being played, as they were in the past."
"I am prepared to wait until December 1, but no longer. After that I will begin a formal process to address the situation," he said.
But Fr Kennedy indicated yesterday that the local people would not be changing their practices.
He said St Mary’s had been "white-anted" [? I am guessing this is colloquial.] by people who were not regular members of the church.
"There are vigilantes who’ve come into our church and written to Rome, and Rome has put pressure on John Bathersby. Bullies never have enough of bullying, and the Vatican is a bully," he said. [Uh huh. I think I will make popcorn and watch that that plays out. But notice that this has nothing, really, to do with the real problem: what this priest and parish are doing is WRONG.]
"Many communities are not sticking precisely to the rules of liturgy. Our problem is that we are a public community. [A "public community"? Sorry… but this is incomprehensible.] The archbishop has known what we’ve been doing for all these years. [That is a problem, admittedly. But… that again doesn’t change the situation. It must stop!] But his model of governance is hierarchical, and that’s his problem, the Church’s governance is hierarchical."
Fr Kennedy, 71, said he was making a stand on behalf of what he called "recovering Catholics".
"They walked away from the Church because they can no longer abide this institution which is so oppressive of women, of gay and lesbian people. [I think the canonical process will not take long.]
"We are one Church community that is prepared to say enough is enough."
According to the ABC, Archbishop Bathersby’s demands include an end to commitment ceremonies at St Mary’s for gay and lesbian couples and the use of non-conventional terms during baptisms.
He insists the priests wear the traditional alb and stole during the Mass and they use a Catholic Church approved eucharistic prayer, not one developed by the community.
He also wants lay people to stop giving the homily.
Power backs St Mary’s
Speaking to the Canberra Times, Canberra auxiliary, Bishop Pat Power said that St Mary’s South Brisbane was a haven to people who had been excluded from their own parishes, Catholic and otherwise. He said canon law required homilies at Mass must be preached by a deacon or priest.
”I have difficulty with that ruling, but that is how it is.” [Another winner.] He did not accept all goodness and knowledge resided in priests. Parishes such as St Mary’s pushed the Church ahead.
”I think the day will come when that sort of thing will happen.”
Bishop Power described Archbishop Bathersby as Australia’s most open and accommodating archbishop, who was committed to dialogue.
”I would have sympathy for a parish which is reaching out to gay people,” Bishop Power said. ”So often they feel no one wants to know them. But a bishop has difficulty with those things. I recognise their desire to be part of the Church.
”I have a lot of sympathy and admiration for a parish like this. I know it is hard to find the middle ground.” [The "middle ground"? For example, just do half of the baptisms invalidly?] The Queensland bishops were generally open and accommodating and generally progressive in terms of the second Vatican Council.
Dresser aims to "marry" theology and science
Meanwhile, Bathurst diocese priest Fr Peter Dresser who has created a worldwide storm of controversy over his claims Jesus was not God and Mary was not a virgin in his book has said he was simply trying to start a "conversation", Livenews says. [Well… he did that!]
Fr Dresser, whose book God is Big. Real Big [O God… you are soooo big!] is being sold at Brisbane churches for $20 a copy, says he has not been disciplined since the book’s contents went public in the media.
Dresser said in an interview that his book tries to "marry" theology and science.
I’ll excommunicate you: archbishop (The Australian, 3/11/08)
Brisbane church faces axe over liberal practices (ABC News, 2/11/08)
‘Jesus was not God’ priest speaks to LIVENEWS.com.au (Livenews, 30/10/08)
Bishop backs gay move by parish (Canberra Times, 3/11/08