St Mary's Priest gets the Sack
The Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby has given notice to the priest of St Mary’s Catholic church at South Brisbane, Father Peter Kennedy, that he should resign by 21 February or he will face the sack. This follows a long stand-off between the congregation and the church hierarchy, in which Father Kennedy has been accused of “performing unorthodox mass and not respecting the church hierarchy”. Read the ABC news item here.
Chief among the congregation’s sins is the acceptance of gays and lesbians including running commitment ceremonies for couples, but the Archbishop is also concerned about the use of “non-conventional terms during baptisms.” He also insists that priests at the church wear “the traditional alb and stole during the mass and they use a Catholic Church-approved eucharistic prayer – not one developed by the community. He also wants lay people to stop giving the homily.” Link.
At a time when the Catholic church is struggling to retain its relevance to modern society, and every other day seems to bring another sexual abuse controversy, it seems odd that a popular local congregation, with a regular attendance at services of around 700, and which is offering unconditional acceptance and respect should be singled out for contempt of the tradition.
And I think this is the key: there was a chap in Palestine about two millennia ago who preached love and acceptance and who was criticised by the church hierarchy for meeting with sinners and prostitutes. St Mary’s isn’t breaching any of the teachings of the Bible: quite the contrary, their commitment to the Gospel should be an inspiration to other churches. Rather, they are out of step with the medieval traditions and regulations of the church hierarchy, which seems to be more interested in maintaining the power structures of the organisation than furthering the aims of what it ostensibly stands for.
I don’t think it matters: Father Peter and his 700 parishioners will find another venue nearby (apparently local schools and other organisations have already offered space) and continue serving the community in ways that they find meaningful. And the Catholic Church loses one more reason for it to exist.