Daily Archives: February 9, 2009

Another town gone

After Kinglake and Marysville, now it’s Strathewen. Watch the video on this page. You might want to take a look at The Age’s website for more about the horrible fires we have suffered.

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This is what you must never do…

Spill a glass of red wine over the keyboard of your laptop computer. Alcohol and typing do not mix. I have found out the hard way. My laptop is liable to be in detox for some time – if it survives the ordeal…

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Fr Lombardi takes it on the chin…

Like a man. Or is it like a follower of Christ? You know, as in: “if someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the left one also” (Matt 5:39). Well, since Fr Lombardi is the Vatican spokesman, I guess he’s decided that the buck stops with him, even if he isn’t the one who makes the bullets – or would it be better in this context to say “olive branches” – he is just the one who fires them.

Still, in these comments to the French Newspaper “La Croix” (best reported in English by Zenit), Fr Lombardi admits there is a problem. I have taken the Zenit report and done a google translate on the original to give us the following “translation” of the interview:

P. Lombardi: “We did not hand control of the communication”

The spokesman for the Pope, director of the press room of the Holy See, discusses the crisis of the past few days

La Croix: The decree lifting the excommunication of bishops fundamentalists has caused great emotion. What you failed to explain it better?

P. Lombardi: The problem with this decree, it has been negotiated until the last moment and that some points remained unclear. It does not mark the culmination of a process, but a stage, without giving a clear result. However, the press release accompanying left too many issues in doubt, giving rise to various interpretations. Moreover, as this is a negotiation with another party, the document was already on some sites and newspapers. We did not hand control of the communication.

La Croix: Is there not been lack of communication?

For the Church, the issue of communication is not simple. Should we speak and immediately? Sometimes it is better not to speak. A very open communication, especially on a negotiation process as complex, can block or discredit. But in this case, which was the most damaging is the concomitance between the issue of excommunication and dissemination of Bishop Williamson’s negationist – and unjustifiable – opinions.

La Croix: Would it have been avoided?

P. Lombardi: Honestly, the point is to know who knew the views of this man. When the Pope offers to lift the excommunication of four bishops, it is not a significant number, as if they were 150. We know these four bishops. No doubt the people who managed this case they were not aware of the seriousness of what Bishop Williamson [had said]. It is true that the negotiations were conducted with Bishop Fellay. But the positions of other bishops have not been sufficiently taken into account. What is certain is that the pope did not know. If there is one who should know, the Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

La Croix: Do you see an evolution of media, more hostile to the Church?

P. Lombardi: The media are not more or less bad than before. They reflect our world. Let’s be clear: there are currents opposed to the Church, who see it as liberticidal [That’s a good one – translation of liberticide – David], etc.. The message of the Church is often against the current thinking of the majority, of which the media are naturally the spokesman. But reactions can also be positive. We saw at the death of John Paul II. And it must be remembered that Benedict XVI travels to the United States, Australia and France, however, at the beginning, public opinion was far from being obtained, showed that his message could also be transmitted by the media.

La Croix: Catholics themselves have difficulty understanding the decisions of the Vatican. Why?

P. Lombardi: Some documents are intended for specialists in canon law, other theologians, others to all Catholics and all other men. But now, whatever the nature of the document, it is directly on the public square. It becomes difficult to manage.

La Croix: In this crisis, your communication did not make connection with local bishops?

P. Lombardi: When you are warned in time, we try to make contacts. Sometimes, the document is already in the hands of local bishops, even before we have it. I believe that a culture of communication is still to be created within the Curia, where each dicastery communicates independently, does not necessarily pass through the press room, or when information is complex, write an explanatory note.

La Croix: What lessons have been learned from this crisis?

P. Lombardi: If the explanations of the notes of the Secretariat of State of February 4 were given the issuance of the decree, we would have saved several days of passion. Especially when it comes to ‘hot subjects’, it is preferable to prepare explanations. But it is impossible to avoid all difficulties. We must also be willing to take risks. And we certainly can not suggest a way forward in reconciliation without any ambiguities.

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St Mary’s South Brisbane – A long way from "closure"

Unless mine is the only Australian Catholic blog you read, this will not be the first place you have heard the news that Archbishop John Bathersby has acted on the case of St Mary’s, South Brisbane. He has sent a letter to Fr Peter Kennedy, who has been the “administrator” (not Parish Priest) of the parish for the last 28 years. Fr Kennedy himself has made this letter public on the website of The Courier Mail. Here is a transcript of that letter:

6 February 2009
Rev Fr P Kennedy
St Mary’s Catholic Parish
SOUTH BRISBANE QLD 4101

Dear Peter

Thank you for your letter of 12 January with its invitation to further discuss the situation of St Mary’s South Brisbane. I see no reason to do so. I have repeatedly asked for changes but you and the community have not budged an inch. Moreover South Brisbane’s instant disclosure of my letters and comments in the media gives me no reason to enter into discussion. By all means consult the people of St Mary’s as you wish but ultimately you yourself are the shepherd and leader of its decisions Time and time again I have spelt out a request for changes at St Mary’s Parish if it is to remain in communion with the Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Roman Catholic Church. However time and time again St Mary’s has chosen to go its own way Therefore reluctantly I make the following decisions.

1 . I will terminate your appointment as Administrator of St Mary’s Parish effective Saturday, 21 February 2009 unless you were to resign beforehand. .

I would like to add, without trying to exert pressure that ii you wish to retire from active service as a priest, the Archdiocese will assist you as it does with other Archdiocesan priests who retire.

2. From the 2lst February 2009 I will appoint Dean Ken Howell, of St Stephen’s Cathedral, as Administrator of St Mary’s., until a new Administrator is appointed.

From Sunday, 22 February 2009 regular Masses at 7am and 9am will be celebrated at St Mary’s Church until the matter is reviewed. Other sacraments of the Church will be available and can be arranged with Dean Ken Howell Church goers attached to St Mary’s are most welcome to continue, as well as those who wish to return to the parish or those who wish to become new parishioners.

3. I sincerely hope that St Mary’s emphasis on social justice will remain. •• However such matters should be discussed with the new Administrator.

4. Because of its name, chosen originally in 1864, 1 also hope that sound Marian devotion will be promoted at St Mary’s as was normal in the past. I will do whatever I can to facilitate and encourage this devotion.

5. Because there is doubt about the validity of the many baptisms performed at St Mary’s, I will nominate a special day in the near future when baptisms can be performed at St Stephen’s Cathedral and certificates issued to parents concerned about validity, or those who are adult converts. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made it clear in March 2008 that invalid baptisms cannot be dismissed and forgotten. They must be corrected.

6. Peter you have already claimed in the media that you may lead people who desire to follow you into a breakaway Christian community elsewhere in South Brisbane. I cannot stop you from doing so. However those who follow you should realise that they will not be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Peter, making these decisions gives me no satisfaction whatsoever. The separation of Christians is contrary to all that Christ prayed for. Nor does such division• promote the Kingdom of God. • You have had ample time to make a considered decision. Please God the division that exists at the present time will be healed in the future, probably not in my time. I ask the priests, deacons, religious and people of the Archdiocese of Brisbane to pray for me and for all who belong to the Archdiocese, especially the community of St Mary’s in its present situation. In this matter I pray also that Mary the mother of Jesus will be our inspiration and guide as we seek her prayerful support for the healing of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, and St Mary’s Parish.

Sincerely in Christ
Most Rev John A Bathersby DD
ARCHBISHOP OF BRISBANE

One could make several comments about that letter, but I will get to the main point fairly quickly. I just want to note two of the more striking features: 1) The striking reference to the restoration of “sound Marian devotion” to the parish, and 2) The intention of a “special day…when baptisms can be performed at St Stephen’s Cathedral” for those “concerned about validity” of baptisms administered at St Mary’s.

However, the most striking thing of all about this letter is how lenient the Archbishop is in his action. After all the ho-hah in the media over the last months, all the Archbishop has done is something he could have done at any time in the last 28 years: terminated Fr Kennedy’s appointment as administrator of the parish.

Note: Archbishop Bathersby has not:
1) closed the parish
2) excommunicated Fr Kennedy
3) suspended Fr Kennedy a divinis

In other words, St Mary’s parish is free to continue its life and ministry as a community. The only thing that has happened to St Mary’s is the sort of thing that happens to parishes around the country every day: they are getting a new priest.

Given the Archbishop’s generous offer of a quiet retirement for Fr Kennedy, the best thing Fr Kennedy could do now is swallow his pride and accept that this is “another step in the journey”. That would enable the parish to get out of the media spotlight and get on with being a Catholic community again. I’m sure that Dean Howell is no dictator. He will simply celebrate valid baptisms and masses, wear vestments, preach the gospel and pastor the people. This is a real opportunity for everyone to move on.

Of course, the warning is there that if Fr Kennedy decides to go off and start his own “breakaway Christian community elsewhere in Brisbane” – something of which the Archbishop himself admits “I cannot stop you from doing so” – then I suspect things will get serious (ie. MORE serious). Archbishop Bathersby has already indicated that any Catholics attending any such “community” will “not be in communion with theRoman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Brisbane”. What he does not say, but what must be assumed, is that such an action would also mean that Fr Kennedy “will not be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Brisbane”. That would require an actual canonical decision in regard to Fr Kennedy’s status as a priest, such as excommunication (in the extreme case) or at least suspension a divinis. What we would have, in effect, is a mirror image of the right-wing Levebrites on the left-wing side of the Church.

So somehow, while the parish has not suffered the predicted “closure”, I still feel that we are someway from having “closure” on this story too.

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