FLASH! Brisbane… again. Jesus isn’t God after all.

UPDATE 30 Oct 08 13:56:

The fine canonist Ed Peter’s on his canon law blog digs into the issue of the heretic Fr. Dresser.



A concerned reader sent me this story from The Australian.  Read it and weep.

As a preamble, let us review what I have called my quintessential old-style ICEL prayer.

O God,
you are so big.
Help us to be big
like you.

Read on now, gentle reader, with my emphases and comments.

Church row escalates as priest denies Jesus was God

Tess Livingstone | October 29, 2008

THE controversy surrounding one of Australia’s most radical Catholic churches, St Mary’s South Brisbane, has escalated into a wider debate over bedrock Christian beliefs.

On the line for parishioners of St Mary’s and several other parishes in Queensland and NSW are fundamental church doctrines such as who can celebrate Mass, [and even more fundamental] whether Jesus Christ was God, whether Mary had as many as six children, the bodily Resurrection, and the need for sacramental celebrations for same-sex marriages.  [The poor reporter maybe isn’t seeing that these are not equivalent issues.  Some of them, like the resurrection and above all divinity of Christ are more important than the others.]

In a booklet being sold for $20, [Okay… so there is a written, published proof.] a NSW priest, Peter Dresser of Coonamble in the Diocese of Bathurst, insists Jesus was not God and did not think he was God. The booklet is on sale at two Brisbane parishes: St Mary’s and the Wooloowin/Windsor/Kalinga Parish of outspoken Brisbane priest Richard Pascoe. [Okay… so… where is the bishop and the CDF?  WHY. IS. THIS. GUY. STILL. THERE?]

In God is Big. Real Big!  [You know… you just can’t make things up fast enough.] Father Dresser — who prefers to be known as Peter — says: "This whole matter regarding Jesus being God … not only does violence to my own intelligence, but must be a sticking point for millions of people trying to make some kind of sense of the Christian religion … No human being can ever be God, and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that."  [This is heresy.  Folks, if you were ever looking for a heretic, this guy’s it.  Furthermore, he seems to be a rather thick heretic.  If there is anything to be said about the mystery of the two natures of Christ, it is not "simple".]

Father Dresser said he found his own rural flock "very conservative" [i.e., they believed Jesus is God?] and admitted that many of them found his theology difficult to accept. [LOL!  That’s not hard to imagine.  Picture it: A congregation of rural Aussies… maybe farmers, ranchers, I don’t know, with perhaps some permanent dirt in the callouses of their worn hands and lot’s of sun-deeped laugh lines listening to "Just-Call-Me-Pete" in the pulpit saying that Jesus isn’t God.] He said he had rethought his approach after taking an interest in science. "I’m delighted they’re opening up the debate at St Mary’s," he said.  [I would be delighted to know what the date of his removal will be.]

In his book, Father Dresser claims Mary had as many as six children, Joseph was the father of Jesus and the bodily Resurrection is not to be taken literally.  ["And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain: and your faith is also vain." 1 Cor 15:14]

Sydney lecturer in church history, Anthony Robbie, said Father Dresser’s claims defied all scriptural evidence

"What a breathtaking know-all, [I have other words.] to claim he knows the mind of Christ contrary to scripture and tradition. His words rob Christianity entirely of its meaning and purpose," Father Robbie said.

"The Council of Nicaea settled the question that Christ was God in 325, so he is 1700 years out of date. The rest is a regurgitation of every discredited 19th-century liberal Protestant German cliche in the book."  [Worse than a Bultmaniac, perhaps.]

Recently, the priests at St Mary’s — Peter Kennedy and Terry Fitzpatrick — also canvassed the idea of Catholics celebrating the Eucharist in their homes, without a priest.

A discussion paper handed to parishioners [Another written proof.] by Father Kennedy and written by Charles Kelliher said the lack of priests in the 21st century should prompt the faithful to look back to the first 200 years of the church, before the priesthood and the church hierarchy came into existence.

"Like the house church of the first 200 years, it is the community of believers who can concelebrate and bring about the presence of Christ in the eucharistic celebration. [Sounds like Schillebeeckx.  Actually… this is all sounding familiar to me personally.  More on that later.] Let us embark on the journey as a community of believers in the modern day house church.

"The community of believers would call forth one of its members to preside at this memorial service. This person could be either man or woman, married or single … with no special designation except being chosen or called forth to leadership by the community." [Yep. Schillebeeckx.]

The director of adult education in the Archdiocese of Sydney, Opus Dei priest John Flader, said the earliest celebrants of the Eucharist were called presbyters, a Greek word meaning elders, but they had been appointed by the laying-on of hands by a bishop, and there was no evidence that women took such roles. "Even as early as around 100AD, Pope Clement I wrote to the church in Corinth setting out the authority of Rome over the local church, including the presbyters," Father Flader said. "Suggesting that lay people gather in homes today and pick someone to celebrate the Eucharist is absurd. [even stupid] It would never be valid."

St Mary’s has continued with eucharistic prayers celebrated by the congregation with women leading much of the mass. Recent preachers have included "community jester" and activist Tony Robertson.

While some argue that St Mary’s should be closed, some priests say this would drive the teachers who attend the church towards informal services at home, which could influence the children they teach. "They say they regard themselves as Catholic so it would be better to ensure they conform to the Church’s teachings and practice. These are not optional," said one.

All this from a guy who is stupid enough to put his name on something called God is Big. Real Big!  and then actually give it to people.

When I was in the then very sad bastion of wierdness, the seminary I went to in the USA, this was the sort of crap we were manured in day in and day out.   Pure Schillebeeckx for anything having to do with Eucharist and Orders.  Old Protestant Christology.  Completely wacky liturgical creativity which still gives me shudders.   All this was poured over us with the tenderest of intentions on the part of the faculty, most of whom probably did their field training at Lubyanka before coming to the seminary.  Very few were the moments of sanity.  The rest was a nightmare.

I remember clearly one day walking out of a Christology class during our second year.  One guy behind me said to another, "That whole thing about Christ having two natures is a pretty interesting idea." 

First, note the eloquent reduction of this dogma and mystery of faith to "thing", like the deep thinker "Just-Call-Me-Peter", above.  Second, note that the two natures "thing" came as a surprise.  In second year major seminary, he hadn’t ever heard of this dogma before.  Third, this "interesting things" remained at the level of an idea.  In sum, an even slightly informed Christian Christology formed no part of his life, his spirituality.  No part of his priestly formation. 

You cannot be a priest, alter Christus, if you have screwy ideas about Christ. 

What damage would a man like that do?

Just look to Brisbane for the answer.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ckdexterhaven says:

    Looks like somebody missed the day they taught the Catholic religion in Seminary school.

  2. Joshua says:

    This is not just sad, it is absolutely scandalous. The bishop should not wait 5 seconds (considering the obstinacy of the priests) to call them to an ecclesiatical trial and excommunicate them with full solemnity.

    I have long been of the opinion that the invalid baptisms were not punished enough. The chancery misrepresented Rome´s ruling, saying that the baptisms were illicit not invalid though Rome explicitly said they were invalid. Just that action alone by the chancery is a grave matter, putting many souls at risk.

    The bishop needs to attack this with full force now as an assault of Satan himself on the Church. Denial of baptism to many would be members of the Church, topped with denial of Christianity itself. The longer these priests remain unpunished the more scandal and damage is suffered by the Church.

  3. Jeff Pinyan says:

    You can read the book online, courtesy of the author. God is Big! Real Big!

    Please have your barf-bag at the ready and your anti-heresy glasses on.

  4. JPG says:

    Fr Z,
    Your said where is the Bishop & CDF my personal reaction was where are the matches and the firewood, time to deal with heresy effectively. (just kidding) but in all seriousness that statement reflects the anger on my part and the damage done to the souls of the unwary.
    You are absolutely correct the CDF needs to act and I would suggest Candle Bok and Bell.
    The infraction is serious and must be dealt with in a serious manner. The Church by Divine institution is NOT a liberal democracy . They need to be set in the right path and/or be separated (Let them be anathema) I have grown weary of the nonsense tolerated within the pulpit and the Universities over the years . It is as if the bishops have been cowed by the delusion of being tolerant and forward thinking. This hangover from the seventies needs to go.

  5. Diane says:

    It’s sad to say that until bishops and the Church hierarchy start sending such priests to spend the rest of their days in a monastery, remove the “good standing” status of numerous dissident professors (as in no longer qualified to teach in a Catholic insitution), and excommunicate where there is obstinancy, the poorly catechized Catholics will continue feeding at the cafeteria.

    An open question for our bishops to ponder:

    What would St. Paul, St. Augustine, or St. Irenaeus do in the face of such things?

  6. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Here’s a gem: “I am quite sure that although [Jesus] felt an extremely close intimacy with a God whom he called Abba, he himself would never have thought of himself as God or a god. A prophet perhaps – but never a god. After all Jesus was a Jew and a good one at that. It would have been the ultimate blasphemy to have seen himself as God. The problem is that … millions of Christians take the Scriptures and perhaps Church Councils too literally.” (from Chapter 5: Jesus the Avatar)

    The book is from 2004. It’s FOUR YEARS OLD! How long, O Lord?

  7. Patrick Rothwell says:

    “Like the house church of the first 200 years, it is the community of believers who can concelebrate and bring about the presence of Christ in the eucharistic celebration.”

    Not so, according to Gregory Dix and Louis Bouyer, who knew a thing or two about the ancient liturgy. Given everything else they have written, if they had a time machine and could go back to those house churches of cir. 120 AD, I suspect that these priests would be most angered at the conservatism of the flock and the violence done to their most discerning intelligence.

  8. Fr. Dan says:

    well as I always say ther’re ready for the fires of hell arn’t they.

  9. Jeff Pinyan says:

    He has also recently written about baptism, and asserts that Vatican II sought to push the age of baptism back:

    Maybe the time will come … when a more meaningful age for the reception of Baptism will become a reality. Vatican II at least hinted at a later age for Baptism when it declared that all the sacraments are “signs that instruct” and that they “presuppose faith” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 59). This presumes evangelisation.

    That’s it. No lunch for me. I couldn’t stomach it, and I should spend my lunch time in prayer of reparation.

  10. Andrew says:

    1/ Fr Z:”This is heresy. Folks, if you were ever looking for a heretic, this guy’s it. Furthermore, he seems to be a rather thick heretic.”
    Certainly is heresy, but he must have some modicum of intelligence…he didn’t publish while the Holy Father was in Australia.

    2/ “He said he had rethought his approach after taking an interest in science. “I’m delighted they’re opening up the debate at St Mary’s,” he said.”
    Right…because taking an interest in science has always helped to understand the mysteries of our faith. Actually, the phrase “taking an interest in science” should be a warning sign. I’m not quite what debate he wants considering that these points are undebatable.

    3/ Perhaps in line for some prayerful application of the now famous Bux Protocol?

  11. Mike B. says:

    You know, it just makes me want to build a fire. Please forgive me if that sounds too extreme.

    [Just a big fire? Or a really big one?]


  12. If his bishop has any sense he’ll go Nicholas of Myrna on this guy and just flat out smack him in the mouth. Honestly, that’s all this sort of arrogant heresy demands. A smack in the mouth and excommunication. Oy vey. He is also completely wrong about the nature of the Eucharistic celebration and the early church. It was never the case that laity consecrated the Eucharist, even when the assembly gathered in someone’s home. Ignatius of Antioch makes this explicitly clear when he writes circa A.D. 110 that the Eucharist is to be presided over the by bishop, or if the bishop is not available, by one of his appointed presbyters. Not only is this priest a heretic, he is also completely historically ignorant.

  13. Irish says:

    “Before Abraham was made, I am.”

    I wonder if this priest needs an exorcism? It reminds me of that one story in Hostage to the Devil, where the anthropologist priest cannot perform the exorcism of another priest until he reconciles his faith.

  14. Andrew says:

    Just been over to scan quickly through the book. (May God forgive me!) Apart from his decision that the doctors of the Church were “flawed” and “wordy” the best line, absolute BEST line was:

    “I myself plead guilty to certain occasional aberrations.”

    You don’t say.

  15. dcs says:

    Speaking of damage, consider the following:

    “Summing up, we can say: The Baptism of the Catholic Church and that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differ essentially, both for what concerns faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose name Baptism is conferred, and for what concerns the relationship to Christ who instituted it. As a result of all this, it is understood that the Catholic Church has to consider invalid, that is to say, cannot consider true Baptism, the rite given that name by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.” [emphases in original]


  16. Allan says:

    There needs to be an Australian Inquisition. With ruthless efficiency. And a fanatical devotion to the Pope.

    I’m expecting it.

  17. sylvester says:

    “All this from a guy heretic who is stupid smart enough to put his name on something called God is Big. Real Big! and then actually give sell it to people [for $20 a pop].”

    There. That should fix it.

  18. Jerry Boyd says:

    The Bishop (or Rome) ought to defrock this heretic ASAP as this story is now on FOX news, CNN and MSNBC. The media, of course, are having a field day with it so clarification/swift action is needed to set the record straight and avoid additional scandal.

  19. G says:

    How long have St Mary’s parish and Mr. Dresser been on the radar of those whose objections to their practices earned accusations of racist, nit-picker, rubricist?
    Because yeah, they were unconventional, but in such small matters, and peopled LIKED them! Don’t be tattling to those meanies at CDF, what’s the harm?

    Now that Mr. Dresser is up to his neck in it, we have evidence, if it were needed, that sticking your toe in heresy to test the temperature calls for immediate smack-down.

    How in the name of St Michael was it allowed to get this far?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  20. Nickkname says:

    Father, would receieving Holy Communion in reparation for the sins and offenses of priests (for example this priest’s blasphemy) be something I can do? Or would it be a sin to do that?

  21. Derik says:

    As Jeff suggests, reparation prayers are needed. I wonder is it is a good idea to pray for this priest using the Bux protocol. This priest (and other like him) need a spiritual mother very badly

  22. a catechist says:

    Maybe we should start praying now for the priest(s) who will be assigned there next.

  23. Maureen says:

    Whether this priest is just invincibly, putridly ignorant or defiantly dissenting, he’s no fit priest for any parish.

  24. Light the pyre and I bring the stake. The traditional methods of dealing with heresy and heretics seem more effective than talking at them or “taking administrative measures”.
    Pope Saint Pius X – pray for us!
    Saint Michael The Archangel – pray for us!
    Sacred Heart of Jesus – make our hearts like Your Heart!

  25. Tim Ferguson says:

    I’d go further than calling this heresy and call it abject, outright apostasy. c. 1364.1 states that an apostate incurs a latae sententiae excommunication and that if he is a cleric, he may be punished with further penalties. Launch a trial, and let this guy know – with no dissembling – that his eternal salvation is in grave danger.

  26. Memphis Aggie says:

    Sounds like this priest already is the “community jester”. I only wish it was a joke.

  27. TJM says:

    This sounds like a serious case of arrested development. Why his Ordinary puts up with this nonsense is troubling. Tom

  28. Scott W. says:

    Anything we can do to petition or help to put the smackdown on this?

  29. The book is from 2004. It’s FOUR YEARS OLD! How long, O Lord?

    And this is not the first we’ve heard of this diocese, parish, and priest. Does all this tell us less about him and more about his bishop? (Just asking. Don’t even know His Excellency of Brisbane’s name. Nor am I sure I want to.)

  30. BD says:

    “He said that he had rethought his approach after taking an interest in . . .” should read, . . . marijuana.

    If Jesus isn’t God, who cares who the priest or priestess is. The body of Christ, the body of Budda, the body of the goddess. It’s all cool. Why not just break some bread, pass the bottle of wine around, along with a bong, and let the community commune. Far out.

  31. Richard says:

    Paging St. Athanasius. Paging St. Athanasius.

  32. Pater, OSB says:

    Interesting… look at his definition of ‘orthodoxy’ in chapter 2 of his little pamphlet, and compare it to what Pope Benedict says of ‘orthodoxy’ in the Preface to vol. 1 of his collected works.

  33. Edward says:

    I am just waiting for some of the usual ninny’s to come on here and complain about Father’s allegedly “uncharitable” comments towards this priest just because he has a different opinion on certain matters of faith.

  34. jarhead462 says:

    OK, Edward here it is:
    Father Z’s comments wre uncharitable towards this fine priest…who…um….alright I was just pulling your leg! this so- called priest sounds deranged. Shut down that circus of a parish ASAP!


  35. Howard says:

    An old Superman comic makes me wonder: Any chance we could get this guy to pronounce “Schillebeeckx” backwards? It might make him disappear.

    Seriously, Tim Ferguson is right. This is beyond heresy, at least in the Protestant sense. He even seems to go beyond the Arian heresy.

  36. Rouxfus says:

    The first heresy, the Arian heresy is alive and well…

    “The Arian Heresy” from “The Great Heresies” by Hillaire Belloc:


  37. David says:

    Pray for this priest, his parish, and his bishop. He needs serious help.

  38. B. says:

    I would be delighted to know what the date of his removal will be.

    Ain’t gonna happen. It’s not like he said the mass in latin with his back to the people or anything similarly divisive.

  39. Another B says:

    I truly believe we have to rethink the old way of dealing with heretics. And I am being serious. Look, no one wants to burn anyone alive, or kill anyone…I honestly don’t. But the traditional method of burning heretics at the stake had at its heart exactly what this article expresses…if we boot them out of the Church, maybe they will be even more dangerous on their own, with no one at all to oversee them. So heresy is a social disease of the Body of Christ, and must be destroyed quickly, or it spreads. I’m sure there was also ideas that a chance of penance could be allowed through the punishment of those who had not fully turned away of their own free will, etc., but the main point is the offense to God and the potential further trouble the heretic could cause.

    That being said, and the fact that we do not want to kill people through lighting them on fire, what are we to do? Somehow, this aspect of the old punishment must be addressed…I am just seriously at a loss for what can be done…

  40. Volpius says:

    They could be forced to do penance in a monastery, that is one of the measures used against priests who have caused scandal in the past.

  41. John Enright says:

    I don’t understand why heretics like this continue to do such nonsensical things. If I was an avid fan of the . . . say Mn. Twins, and then became disenchanted with them, I just wouldn’t go see them again! Chapter closed; if this man doesn’t believe in the Divinity of Christ, why doesn’t he just go away? Yet guys like this very misguided priest from OZ continue to try to lead the people they are supposed to look after astray. Work of the Devil, I think.

    (Oh, BTW I’ve never actually supported the Twins; I’ve never even been in Minnesota. Go Phillies!)

  42. magdalen says:

    I attended a TLM this morning (diocesan) and father spooke about the sad state of affairs in the country with so many Catholics voting for those who promote intrinsic evils. And the deafening silence on the part of many prelates. Then he asked why have they been silent. He said homosexuality is a big reason. He said about 30% of his fellow seminarians were gay. The bishop knew. They all knew. A couple of gay priests in his former diocese were living with lovers. The bishop knew. One priest hired an investigator and collected evidence of abuse situations and there is now a priest in jail and another awaiting trial–these wer gay priests that the bishop knew aobut. The whislte blower priest had HIS faculties removed. So the homilist said that in essence where this sort of sin abounds, you will not hear the truth taught or spoken of in public ways.

  43. The other David says:

    Amazing… reading this book seems as if he was warped by “The Tao of Pooh” and is attempting to force a quasi-Eastern understanding onto Christianity.

  44. Ygnacia says:

    “That whole thing about Christ having two natures is a pretty interesting idea.”

    Even my 7th. grade son knows about the two natures of Christ…is there still anyone out there wondering why so many of us have pulled our kids out of ‘Catholic’ school and now are homeschooling??

  45. Mitch#2 says:

    I am just going to let myself assume that after all these years of not being able to publically celebrate the TLM, he has finally gone nuts and simply needs to be ex communicated and then locked in a padded room where he can write on the walls……..

  46. Brendan Downunder says:

    Please pray hard for us in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. The Catholics here have suffered for so, so long. A once mighty, Roman-minded church is now quite desolate. The current ordinary (Archbishop John Bathersby) is 73 next July so a change (Deo volente) can’t be too far off. Can it?? Thank you Father Z for letting the broader Catholic world know of our considerable distress.

  47. I don’t know for certain that what has passed in the last forty years was foretold in the Third Secret of Fatima, but once the Church removed the central authority (does anyone remember collegiality anymore?-“the Pope is the Pope in Rome, I am the Pope in Newark, N.J.”), everything, including catechetics was up for grabs.

    Keep up the great work you are doing, Father Z!

  48. David says:

    Wait, is Another B seriously advocating killing people over this? Seriously?

  49. Garrett says:

    The only charitable thing to do is immediately and publicly excommunicate this despicable heretic. Worse: he’s an apostate, assuming he ever believed that Jesus was God in the first place.

    It’s absolutely sick that this is allowed to go one even one second. Where is the bishop? If I believed this priest was humble enough, I would urge the Vatican to banish him to some remote monastery so he could spend the rest of his days in penance for his vile. But since I think it’s safe to assume he would never subjugate himself to what I’m sure he believes is an unjust authoritarian hierarchy, it’s probably best simply to excommunicate him.

    Whatever happened to that wonderful old Catholic practice of publicly defrocking a priest or bishop? Somebody dust off the books…

    O Christ our God, save us!

  50. Another B says:

    No, I am not saying we should kill people. I am asking what should take place of killing people. Because when you burn the heretic, you don’t have to worry about them spreading heresy from their mouths anymore. If we do not want to do this (and I think we are right not to burn heretics anymore), what should we do instead? Because what we are doing now does not seem to work…we cannot act like all punishment is strictly for the rehabilitation of the person being punished. We must regain some sense of protecting the Body of Christ from the viral effects of heretics and their teachings…

  51. FOLKS: I don’t think that the burning of these Australian heretics is an option any longer condoned by law. After all, the Church tried clerics long ago, but it was the state that usually carried out the sentences. I haven’t heard of much burning going on down under.

    Sooo … we must regretfully leave that whole part of this discussion aside… okay?

    (That wasn’t really a request, btw.)

  52. Bob says:

    Could the Vatican establish a prison for priests like this?

  53. Nickname”Father, would receieving Holy Communion in reparation for the sins and offenses of priests (for example this priest’s blasphemy) be something I can do? Or would it be a sin to do that?

    It would not be a sin. It would be a good idea. That would be a spiritual work of mercy.

    Pray for me as well and all my faults.

  54. James Isabella says:

    “God is big. Really big. It may seem like a long way to the corner chemist, but compared to God, that’s peanuts.”

    With my apologies to Douglas Adams, for modifying this line from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, but that’s what I thought of when I read the title to the priest’s book.

    He’ll be in my prayers tonight.

  55. Kevin A. says:

    This is saddening. How many souls are being led astray by hearing these falsehoods? Praise God for priests who are unashamed of their faith, I pray we have more of them and that this priest learns from them.

  56. Joan Moore says:

    The booklet that this poor deluded priest has written overflows with twaddle!

    I offered the rosary for him on my way home from work this afternoon. If he knew that he would probably tear some of his hair out, since he seems to totally disdain the rosary and Mary, too.

    God help him. I think that the best place for him is a good mental health rest home.

  57. Melody says:

    What I find more disturbing than a single crazy priest is that he hasn’t been laughed out of his parish. Why hasn’t the CDF received hundreds of complaints by now? Rhetorical question of course.

    I will be praying as well.

  58. Sieber says:

    Why Father Z, I had no idea your had early training at the seminary college of our large Western Archdiocese. You should know it has been closed down for the last two years due to lack of use….and… Oh Yes there was a wonderful offer from a Condo Developer.

  59. Son of Trypho says:

    A couple of points from an Australian but non-Christian perspective:

    This strikes me as a difficult topic to resolve; Dresser is actually a priest in a different diocese (Bathurst) from the one where he is selling his book (Brisbane). I’m not sure what his own Bp could do to stop him from selling it in a different diocese and/or distributing it online privately?

    I find it incredible that a functioning Catholic priest assigned to a diocese would argue the premise that Jesus was not God. This strikes me as completely fundamental to Christianity. The second premise that Jesus may not have perceived himself as God is a much more interesting (and possible) premise to argue (though I think Catholicism has ruled on this quite definitively – someone could confirm that for me?).

    From my own perspective/experience, I can attest that the rural Catholics who are farmers in Australia are mostly private-school educated (boarding school in the major cities) and attend the major universities in the cities – they are usually quite well educated and most are relatively conservative. St Johns College in Sydney is a good example of where many of them attend while studying at Sydney Uni – though they do have a married priest there as chaplain to the student body! (which strikes me as completely odd because it is so unusual in Catholicism)

    Part of the house-church thing I think comes from the difficult situation that rural Catholics face in Australia. There are simply not enough priests to cover the enormous spaces (multiple parishes) in many rural dioceses. I have heard that some parishes do not actually have priests at all – the hosts are apparently pre-consecrated and then distributed by the faithful at Sunday prayer-sessions. Apparently some priests intensely dislike being assigned to the rural areas because of the travel requirements/conditions etc and this may have impacted on his ideas? (Some priests are driving all over the place for hours every day to get around for Masses) Similarly, alot of formative work for youth in these places are done by well-intentioned faithful (who sometimes have it completely wrong – there is very little oversight.)

    As to the Bp of Brisbane – I think he is in a very difficult situation with regards to St Marys and their heterodox ideas. I think I recall seeing him on the television here in Australia once arguing for the ordination of women himself if I recall correctly? If there are any Australian readers they may be able to confirm/correct that?

  60. David Andrew says:

    You know, Australia was founded by the British as a penal colony.

    Why not airlift all of the solid, orthodox Catholics off the island, and leave all the whack-jobs like this guy there?

    I seem to recall that Paramatta was embroiled in a dust-up over Thomas Groome’s “Shared Christian Praxis” stupidity . . . seems like the place is just right for these folks!

  61. Lucia says:

    Australia needs a Savonarola.

    (Call me a fanatic; I won’t care.)

  62. australicus says:

    David Andreae:

    “You know, Australia was founded by the British as a penal colony.”

    It wasn’t, you know. It was founded in 1901. Before that there was no Australia.

    “Why not airlift all of the solid, orthodox Catholics off the island, and leave all the whack-jobs like this guy there?”

    Perhaps because we actually love our country?

    “Think, then post”: more than just an anti-spam phrase…

  63. David says:

    Much as I dislike criticizing the successors of the Apostles, Abp Bathersby cannot be free from criticizm here. His stewardship has been deficient. Canonical penalties have a medicinal value and can be a work of charity. A couple of weeks ago I pointed out that the CDF virtually needs to whip him to get him to move against heretics. Laymen who complain are treated as troublemakers.

    would that we could clone His Grace Abp Burke and His Lordship Bp Bruskewitz!

    How many of our saints have been unwilling to wield the ecommunication stick? Even cuddly old Blessed John XXIII of happy memory kicked out Castro.

    IIRC, Abp Bathersby was one of the most aggressive proponents of the third rite a few years ago. He has employed Mrs Harrington – a big fan of puppets and banners and guitars and bongo drums – as Education Officer in the Diocesan Liturgy Commission. He has “form” in the heresy-coddling department.

    How on earth has this not got to the CDF? Their website has numerous “notifications” on heretics (mostly Jesuits – no surprises there!).

    If we don’t burn them, God will!

  64. Lepanto says:

    He apparently believes we should “follow the way of [Winnie the?] Pooh” an extract from his book:

    “At the beginning of this book I suggested that we choose the way of Pooh, to listen to the voice within us, the voice of wisdom and simplicity and the voice that reasons beyond Cleverness and knows beyond Knowledge. It was an invitation to wander through the Forest in search of meaning and relevance and truth. Above all it was an invitation to find our God in this Forest and to walk in partnership with Him.”

    This is the kind of stuff I would expect only from a traditionalist with a skill at satire.

  65. Son of Trypho says:


    Good point – besides it ignores the fact that the colonies which formed the US itself (before independence) was also a recipient of convicts from Great Britain…

  66. Son of Trypho says:


    I dont think Bathersby is actually Dresser’s Bp?

    Apparently people have been writing to Bathersby on issues in his diocese for ages and he is fairly unresponsive (according to his critics). This doesn’t strike me as surprising if he is trying to avoid charges of public hypocrisy.

  67. clinton says:

    John Enright, in his post above, asks why these heretic priests don’t leave the Church when they cease to believe. I think Mr. Enright may
    be assuming that these sort have the same level of intellectual honesty, the same sense of honor, as he does. I am reminded of a famous
    dissident so-called theologian who was asked why she bothered to remain with a Church for which she obviously had nothing but contempt. Her response was “because that’s where the mimeograph machines are”. Working for the Church provides tremendous job
    security, a bully pulpit, facilities, prestige, and a paycheck. Some very cynical, shameless people have noticed this. One has only to glance at the imploding religious orders, bloated chanceries,
    universities “in the catholic tradition” and ruined parishes to see the effects of the continued presence of these parasites.

  68. David says:

    Son of Trypho,

    Sorry! My error! The Bishop of Bathurst is His Lordship Patrick Dougherty DD.

    The Oz connected this story with the Brisbane “bad non-baptisms” and I skim read it and made a rash judgment.

    If His Grace is reading, he has my sincere apologies (as far as Dresser is concerned).

  69. Son of Trypho says:

    No need for an apology – the link is because Dresser is selling his book in Bathersby’s diocese. To be honest, I’m not sure what he can do about it? He could possibly ban him selling it on church property (can this be done?) but I think that would invite public criticism from those prejudiced against Catholics/religion in the media etc…

  70. David says:

    Actually, Abp Bathersby should not allow this to go on in any Brisbane parish.

    And Bp Dougherty needs to bring out the excommunication stick.

    Being a successor to the Apostles is a terribly hard job, because souls are at stake. I don’t envy them at all. Sometimes they have to make themselves very unpopular. How many priests would have the courage to read “Mit Brennender Sorge” at Mass today?

  71. David says:

    Son of Trypho,

    Cardinal Pell would have banned it on Church property.

    When the dreadful new Victorian abortion law was being debated, Archbishop Hart said he would close Catholic hospitals rather than have Catholics refer patients for abortions.

  72. terra says:

    This latest incident serves only to illustrte just how endemic heresy is in the Church today, and in Australia in particular. This latest book is hardly the first off the blocks; these particular bishops (Bathersby and Dougherty) hardly alone amongst their peers in refusing to act.

    And Fr Z’s story of his own seminary experience (and I had a mini-version of the same problem in my own theology studies) illustrates why the problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon until and unless vigorous action is taken.

  73. David Andrew says:


    My apologies.

  74. Warren says:

    Toss him – the priest in question is up to no good. Toss him, and be done with it. Give him the boot – A REAL BIG BOOT across the parking lot. If he comes to his senses, make him wait for a year to test his sincerity before accepting him back into the Church. If he shows any remorse for the damage he’s done, well and good. Otherwise – cast him out into the outer darkness.

  75. RC says:

    OK. Let’s apply a penalty that’ll really hurt. Stop paying him.

  76. Nickname, you asked

    “would receieving Holy Communion in reparation for the sins and offenses of priests (for example this priest’s blasphemy) be something I can do? Or would it be a sin to do that?”

    By receiving Holy Communion (or offering the Holy Sacrifice), one merits increase of grace and glory, but does not make satisfaction for sin. See the Catechism of the Council of Trent’s section on Holy Communion.

    Instead, we must offer up prayers, fasts, watches &c. in reparation for these heresies.

    Reginaldvs Cantvar

  77. PNP, OP says:

    “Australia needs a Savonarola.”

    I’ll go! I’ll go!

    Fr. Philip, OP

  78. Aussie Paul says:

    The buck stops in relation to this rubbish with the bishops of Australia and finally the Pope.

    In 1998, the Australian bishops suffered a pretty comprehensive dressing down from JPII and the prefects of various congregations during their ad limina visits and the Synod of Oceania. This happened especially with the issue of the famous Statement of Conclusions and the then Holy Father’s ad limina address to the bishops. This concern by Rome was not just over the scandalous use of the 3rd Rite everywhere.

    The Statement, which purported, for reasons of “romanita”, to be a joint effort by the curia and some Australian bishops was really imposed upon the Australian episcopacy by the former, with many of the bishops grumbling excessively. The Statement, amongst many topics, also addressed the serious problems and erroneous ideas in Australia about Christology.

    Relations between Rome and the Australian bishops soured considerably. Something had to be done. So in 2004 at the next round of ad limina visits much diplomacy took place ending in a lovely cocktail party, with curial officials and the Australian bishops attending, where they smiled and slapped each other on the back saying, pretty well, that everything Down Under was becoming rosy again and what good friends they all were, despite the continued appeals to Rome by distressed laity.

    To give the new rosy picture some credibility, what was needed was a confirmation by a “conservative” bishop and not just the posturing of the lunatic dissenters amongst the Australian episcopacy. Such confirmation eventually came in the form of an interview granted in Rome by Cardinal George Pell to Zenit News Agency. The headline for the interview in March 2004 was “Reasons for Cautious Optimism”. Cardinal Pell, while assuring us that progress was being made, did acknowledge that it was not spectacular progress. However, he went on to say, amongst other things, in response to the interviewer’s query about Christology (and this is the same year that Fr Peter Dresser published “God is Big. Real Big!”):

    “In the last five years I’m not aware of any explicitly erroneous teaching on Christology. There might be around Australia one or two centers which are really centers for paganism and for other religions, pantheism and things like that. But I don’t think we have trouble on the level of Christology.”

    You can see for yourself that the online publication of the rubbish by Dresser is acknowledged as “a joint project between St Mary’s Catholic Community in South Brisbane and Fr Peter Dresser.” So, it’s not the case that the former is “only” selling this iniquitous book.

    Dresser’s stuff wasn’t coming from some irrelevant centre for paganism and pantheism, like Cardinal Pell might want to think, but from the very heart of the Catholic Church in Australia; from a parish priest of the Bathurst Diocese in good standing then, and, incredibly, still today it seems; and from the “St Mary’s Catholic Community in South Brisbane”.

    Faithful priests and laity knew that Cardinal Pell was dead wrong. They knew that attacks on Christ’s divinity had been commonplace for years before 1998 in many Australian seminaries, parishes and “Catholic” schools. They also knew that nothing had changed by 2004 – if anything, the situation had generally worsened. People were just stunned by Cardinal Pell’s opinion! He was dead wrong in 2004 and, if he holds the same view today, he is still dead wrong. Dead wrong even about his own archdiocese.

    The Dresser/South Brisbane stuff is just the tiniest tip of an iceberg that is certainly not suffering from global warming!

    As far as South Brisbane is concerned, we have suffered over a decade of inaction by those in authority. Now we are expected to swallow the nonsense that dialogue and committee meetings need to take place or the archbishop might have to close the parish down. What rot! This latest episode has been going on for 2 months now. The administrator priest (not having the tenure of a PP) and the other fellow, a priest of another diocese camping there in some irregular situation, could be dismissed and replaced tomorrow by faithful Catholic priests who could begin to repair the pastoral damage by teaching the true Catholic Faith and celebrating a true Liturgy and dispensing valid Sacraments again.

    Far be it for your humble layman even to begin to think about judging the present successors of the apostles (that’s up to Christ who IS God) but we can sometimes judge their actions. But one is reminded of some of the reasons perhaps for the great St John Chrysostom writing so robustly:

    “The floor of Hell is paved with the whitened skulls of bishops!”

  79. Jane says:

    There are some bishops in Australia who will be asked on judgment day, what they did about priests who sprouted their own theology and liturgy and ignored the Catholic Church.

    I hope that they can explain their inaction in the face of this outrageous disobedience to the Church. My country Australia has a patron saint: Mary Help of Christians. I have put up the history of the devotion to Mary Help of Christians at this link.


    It is time that Australians called upon Mary Help of Christians’ assistance in this crisis.

    Call on Mary in all your difficulties with the little prayer, Mary Help of Christians, Pray for us, and you will never call in vain.
    (St. John Bosco)

    Australia once had St Therese and St Francis Xavier as patrons because it was considered to be a missionary country. We need them again.

  80. tertullian says:

    “Australia needs a Savonarola.”

    I’ll go! I’ll go!

    Fr. Philip, OP

    ah, the return of Bernardo Gui!

  81. Maureen says:

    The really sad thing is that all this is coming out so soon after World Youth Day, which showed Australians with a wonderful attitude of awe and reverence toward Jesus. This guy has missed out.

    And what does he get for it? He tells everyone that forms and words don’t matter, and then he spends all his time making up forms and reeling off words? What’s that about?

    This guy is deeply confused.

  82. Maureen says:

    Sigh. I read a little bit of his book (Chapter 10). It’s hard going, but the guy’s not a total idiot. He does seem to be able to grasp some real problems in today’s church, and wants people to have more intimate union with God, and for “spirituality” to be a part of everyday life, not something tacked on for weddings and funerals.

    So then, he insists that the only thing to do is to change our theology totally. Whizzzz, right past the point he seemed to be heading toward.

    Argggh. The pain. This poor heretical mook really wants to join the FSSP or something, but he took New Age Spirituality Studies instead.

  83. Maryse Usher says:

    You can send your comments to “Fr” Dresser (as I have done, telling him nicely that he is a complete heretic) here: reception@bathurst.catholic.org.au The more mail he gets condemning his behaviour, the better. St Mary’s does not qualify as a Catholic parish any more, it’s a complete new age flake. Go to it, emailers!

  84. Maryse Usher says:

    P.S. Here’s the link to an article this month in AD 2000 about the infamous ex-Catholic parish in which “Fr” Dresser is selling his little booklet. The booklet and the parish go well together. http://www.ad2000.com.au/
    All I want is for this blot on the archdiocese to have Our Lady’s name removed from it. Every orhtodox Catholic in the country, except for the Archbishop allegedly in charge of it, knows about the horrors of this place. Perhaps you would like to inform the Abp. that when a parish goes bad, it affects everyone in the Mystical Body all over the world.

  85. paul says:

    This priest needs lots of prayers said for him.

  86. In order to eliminate any ambiguity in my answer to Nickname’s question at 11:59 p.m., October 29, let me re-phrase the first part as follows:

    “By the personal act of receiving Holy Communion worthily (or the personal act of offering the Holy Sacrifice worthily), one merits increase of grace and glory, but does not make satisfaction for sin …”

    A footnote to the section on Holy Communion in the 1923 McHugh/Callan translation of the Catechism of the Council of Trent mentions this.

    Reginaldvs Cantvar

  87. therese says:


    Words fail me. Just off to rend my garments.

  88. I have just finished a phone call with Peter Dresser in Bathurst. The call was a response to an email Peter sent asking me as his online editor to close down the God is Big Real Big web site.

    Peter’s request is the act of a true pastor who is concerned at the pain and anguish his writings have caused to good people and friends.

    Peter’s constant refrain that this work is an exploration and not a credal statement has not been understood in many circles.

    It takes a man of extraordinary humility and true compassion to reach out to those who misunderstand.

    It takes a man with deep integrity to weather the storm of vilifying comments, malicious journalism and cowardly attacks by the theologically illiterate.

    It takes a man of God to challenge our imagination and to take on his shoulders the burden of fear and anxiety which such an experience can stir in people.

    It is so Australian to give a “fair go” to those who cannot see your point of view and to whom you offer your hand in a blessing and sign of peace.

    I stand by Peter Dresser as a good man, a follower of Jesus, a priest and pastor, a bloody great bloke.

    I trust the Bird of Paradise will fly up the noses of the journalists, bloggers and those who take pride of place in their “Catholic Pews,” who have been responsible for the vitriolic attacks on the person, faith and integrity of Peter Dresser.

  89. Tony R: “man of God” is being used a little loosely here. Surely you jest.

    This fellow whom you defend has performed many illicit and invalid baptisms, refused correction from the bishop and the Holy See, and has compromised the Eucharist through illicit and perhaps even invalid consecrations. Not much humility there.

    I don’t know if he is a “great bloke” or not, but questions might be raised in that regard when it concerns a Catholic priest who denies that Jesus is God and who questions the bodily resurrection.

    You don’t have to be theologically literate to know that if he believes those things and preaches them, then he is a heretic to be corrected or extirpated.

  90. Chris Hawley says:


    Sorry for the intrusion, but I’m trying to locate a Joan Elaine Moore who used to live in New Jerusalem, a
    community of conservative Catholics in Mexico. If you’re on this board, I would appreciate if you
    could contact me at christophermhawley@hotmail.com

    Thank you!

Comments are closed.