I'll Excommunicate You: Archbishop

By Andrew Fraser
The Australian

November 3, 2008,25197,24590919-5006786,00.html

THE Brisbane parish of St Mary's looks set to be excommunicated after the local priest, Peter Kennedy, said yesterday he would not change his ways despite being warned to do so by church authorities.

Father Kennedy was speaking after the inner-city parish received a letter from Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby, who has given the parish until the end of the month to change several of its practices.

The South Brisbane church openly gives communion to gays, regularly has women giving the homily, and has a style of baptism that is not within the rules of the Catholic Church.

Neither Father Kennedy nor the other priest at the church, Terry Fitzpatrick, wear traditional priest's vestments.

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 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.

While the parish still has the rest of the month to respond to the archbishop, Father Kennedy indicated yesterday that the local people would not be changing their practices.

Father Kennedy said the practices at St Mary's had evolved over the years from the community. He strongly criticised what he called the hierarchical approach of the Vatican in dictating what should be said in every parish in the world.

He said St Mary's had been "white-anted" by people who were not regular members of the church and found some of the practices there offensive.

"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," Father Kennedy said.

"Many communities are not sticking precisely to the rules of liturgy. Our problem is that we are a public community. The archbishop has known what we've been doing for all these years. But his model of governance is hierarchical, and that's his problem -- the church's governance is hierarchical."

Father Kennedy said that for many centuries, local people had chosen their own bishop.

"But Rome, particularly over the past couple of hundred years, has taken that authority away from the people to elect their own bishop, and they have this system whereby people are not in any way consulted."

Father Kennedy, 71, who has refused all media interviews until the weekend, 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.

"We are one church community that is prepared to say enough is enough."


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