Father Dobson Sides with Exiled Church

By Damian Bathersby
Sunshine Coast Daily

August 25, 2008

Caloundra's Catholic leader Father John Dobson has championed the right of besieged South Brisbane parish St Mary’s to remain part of the Roman Catholic church.

Members of the 700-strong parish met last night to consider an ultimatum from Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby, who has threatened to close the church if it continues to operate outside the accepted practices of the Catholic church.

At St Mary’s, unorthodox masses are conducted, women can preach and homosexual couples are blessed.

But Archbishop Bathersby’s warning contained in a three-page letter delivered to St Mary’s parish priest Father Peter Kennedy last Friday came following a parishioner’s complaint about a statue of a Buddhist monk praying which had been placed inside the church.

The statue, which had been provided for a Buddhist meditation group which meets each week in St Mary’s, was later taken out and smashed by a parishioner.

With St Mary’s South Brisbane now facing the prospect of becoming the first Catholic church in Australia to close under such circumstances, Father Dobson called for some common sense and perspective over what he termed "a storm in a teacup".

"The information I’ve got is that this all happened because (the statue) was reported by an extremely conservative, right-wing member of the church...," he said.

"When people take notice of a person of that sort then these kinds of things happen as a reaction."

Father Dobson believed the church’s role was to provide a spiritual home for Christians, not to judge the lifestyles of its parishioners.

"I think a church that refuses homosexual people as part of the church is not Catholic and not Christian," he said.

"If we’re going to be doing what we do in the tradition of Jesus then there’s no basis for refusing anyone.

"The church should be about inclusion not exclusion.

"The Archbishop hopes wisdom prevails in South Brisbane and I do too.

"We need to allow the differences of believers ... the church needs more pastoring, not policing."


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