They’re getting their wires crossed over at St Mary’s in Exile, at least as far as the story is appearing in the media. Cathnews kindly gives us a precis of the reports appearing in the Courier Mail, The Daily, the Brisbane Times and the Westender. According to this report:
About 1,200 people turned out for Mass at the St Mary’s in Exile community on Sunday despite a worldwide ban impose by Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby on celebrant Fr Peter Kennedy.
Actually, I am not sure what it is that the 1,200 turned up for – but, based on reports of what Kennedy actually does at a Sunday morning service, we can be fairly sure it wasn’t for the Holy Mass. According to Kennedy however:
“It’s business as usual… The fact that hundreds of people are here speaks volumes.” Earlier Fr Kennedy described his ban “as a liberation from a corrupt, ruthless and irrelevant hierarchy.” “But we haven’t left the Church, we’ve been pushed out, excluded by our own archbishop.
Well, that’s one interpretation. It is true that Kennedy and his followers had to be ejected from St Mary’s – they didn’t go of their own accord – but that doesn’t mean that they were really part of the Church before that or that they still are now. To a former Lutheran, the cry “we were kicked out, we didn’t leave” sounds awfully familiar.
“If you set yourself up at some other church you can no longer bring about effective change within the (Catholic) Church.”
Well, there’s something he should have thought about before.
“I know I’m up against a two thousand year old institution, but the Church is imploding all over the world it seems at the moment. It’s obvious if in Australia 85 percent of Catholics don’t go to Mass.”
Fifteen percent, however, do, and that is still more than all the other Christians attending worship in Australia on any given Sunday all lumped together. The 85% non-attendance figure is indeed a indictment upon the Australian Church, but rather more because we have failed to evangelise and catechise properly than because we have failed to take the Kennedy line (which includes doubting the very existence of Jesus himself). The Catholic Church is not “imploding” – it may have just a little way to go before we can describe it as “exploding”, but it is heading in the right direction.
“We’ve done nothing to deserve this, we’re a prophetic community in the sense that we stand with the poor, the excluded, those who are rendered powerless. And for that we are given the chop.”
Who’s he trying to kid? We know exactly why he has been expelled and banned – and it has nothing to do with being “prophetic” or “standing with the poor and excluded”. It has to do with the valid celebration of the sacraments, obedience to the laws of the Church, and teaching the true Catholic faith. As Chancellor Adrian Farrelly is reported to have said:
“Fr Kennedy has consistently ignored a series of formal directives, following years of informal requests from the archbishop to conform with universal Catholic practices. The Catholic Church has laws that regulate throughout the world the celebration of sacraments and pastoral care of people which Fr Kennedy has continued to flout. These present decrees are about ensuring that Catholics within the archdiocese of Brisbane and beyond can continue to have confidence that the sacraments they are obtaining from all priests are celebrated validly and that pastoral practices and teaching are in harmony with accepted church directives.”
Peter Kennedy is not the only one confused about why he has been banned from all priestly ministry in the Catholic Church.
Long time church community leader Marg Ortiz said the decrees issued by Archbishop Bathersby, which penalise Fr Kennedy more harshly than convicted pedophile priest Ron McKeirnan, who has been granted special permission by the Catholic Church leader to conduct masses in private, showed a lack of moral fibre. “If the Church hierarchy allows priests who are pedophiles to say Mass, but ban Peter from doing so for some intellectual dissent, it just shows they have no moral fibre and not a lot of intelligence, frankly,” she said.
Let’s get this clear: You go to jail if you are guilty of child abuse. You get banned from saying mass if you have rebelled against the Church and her teachings. The punishment fits the crime.
Mrs Ortiz, who was the co-convenor of the St Mary’s South Brisbane Council before Fr Kennedy was sacked as administrator of the church, said the action taken against the St Mary’s priests didn’t make a scrap of difference. “They can’t take away from Peter or Terry anything that’s important to this faith community,” she said.
They can, however, stop Kennedy and co from doing what they do in the name of the Catholic Church. Kennedy’s expulsion HAS made a difference in many ways. Maybe the crowd at St Mary’s in Exile will begin to realise that sooner or later. Probably sooner, when it comes to having their children baptised, confirmed, and given first Eucharist.