St Mary's in Exile

Ffalstaf

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#1
Liberating the Catholic Church, one parish at a time.

Sacked St Mary's priest Fr Peter Kennedy conducts last mass

April 19, 2009

SACKED Catholic priest Fr Peter Kennedy says he is now free to speak about the unjust ways of the church and offer hope to others who have been treated unfairly.

Fr Kennedy celebrated his last mass at St Mary's Church in South Brisbane on Sunday.

The controversial priest was dismissed by Catholic authorities as the church's administrator in February for unorthodox practices including allowing women and gay couples to perform blessings.

More than 1,000 parishioners packed the church during the service.

Most followed Fr Kennedy 200 metres down the road after the mass to the Trades and Labour Council building where his new congregation, St Mary's in Exile, will be based.

Fr Kennedy said the majority of the St Mary's church community would join his congregation.

"Father Ken Howell (the newly appointed St Mary's administrator) will have to rent a crowd," Fr Kennedy said.

"They are in denial that this community will walk down the road and join St Mary's in Exile.

"They came before because we were different. We ran liturgies for the people."

After weeks of mediation, he agreed to step down but maintains the sacking was unjust.

"Our story will not change the church but our story will give hope to all those Catholics who have been treated unjustly," he said.

"Those who have been excluded on grounds of gender or sexual orientation, or just people who have been oppressed by the doctrines and dogmas and regulations and rules of the Catholic Church.

"We are liberated now to speak out about the church. The media will come to us for our opinion from now on."

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/stor ... 52,00.html
 

Ffalstaf

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...and the Church turns the other cheek - not!


Church warns rebel priest to watch his liturgies

Daniel Hurst
April 19, 2009

A senior church leader has warned action could be taken against rebel priest Father Kennedy for thumbing his nose at the Catholic hierarchy by leading a "St Mary's in Exile'' congregation.

Brisbane archdiocese chancellor and canon lawyer Adrian Farrelly has also questioned Fr Kennedy's often proclaimed commitment to inclusiveness by suggesting the sacked St Mary's administrator made more traditional worshippers feel unwelcome at the parish.

He also scoffed at suggestions the St Mary's parish was in exile.

The comments came after Father Kennedy presided over his final service at the St Mary's parish church in South Brisbane before new administrator Ken Howell takes over the parish.

Up to 1000 people attended the service on what Father Kennedy described as a historic day.

Most of the parishioners followed Father Kennedy 200 metres down the road to the Trades and Labor Council building on Peel Street where worshippers took communion.

Archbishop John Bathersby sacked Father Kennedy from his role as parish administrator after declaring he was "out of communion'' with the Catholic Church.

The outspoken priest drew criticism from the church over his unorthodox liturgical practices, the wording of baptisms, allowing women to preach and allegedly blessing gay couples.

Father Farrelly said Father Kennedy had not been stripped of his priesthood, but the church could take action if his new services conflicted with Catholic traditions, including the wording of liturgies and baptisms.

"If you're deciding to do your own thing, it's hard to say: 'Yes, that would be Catholic','' he told brisbanetimes.com.au.

Father Farrelly said there was some disappointment within the Catholic Church at Father Kennedy's actions in leading his congregation to a new building, as it was creating "division'' in the church.

"What he's done now is a very public act and it's an act that's seen as moving away from full communion with the local church,'' he said.

"The parish of St Mary's continues. St Mary's is not going anywhere. It is staying put. It's been there since 1893.''

Father Kennedy this morning repeated his comments that the church needed to move with the times and be more inclusive.

However, Father Farrelly said the church community led by Father Kennedy was not as inclusive as he claimed.

He seized on radio comments in which Father Kennedy lashed out at "ultra-conservatives'' who had come into the St Mary's parish and complained about the practices that occurred.

Father Farrelly said the rebel priest had suggested the people complaining were not part of the St Mary's community - suggesting there were "limits to inclusion'' and "you can't be a member of his community if you're an ultra conservative''.

Father Farrelly also hit back at claims traditional church practices were not relevant to modern people. He said such comments denigrated the work of other Catholic priests and parishes who were also working for the community and helping people. He added that everyone was welcome in the church.

Father Farrelly was cautious about commenting about what penalties might be handed down to Father Kennedy for snubbing the Catholic hierarchy and operating his own services without the church's permission.

"It sounds almost like he wants to be ex-communicated,'' he said.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/qld-new ... -abam.html
 

DougalLongfoot

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#3
A terrible shame what is happening in Brisbane. Unfortunately, much ill informed comment seems to be emphasizing that Peter Kennedy is in trouble for his "inclusiveness". Kennedy and those who follow him are perfectly free to believe what they want, but it is a bit hard to maintain you are part of the Catholic church (and expect to continue to use its property and resources) when you deny certain fundamental things the church holds to be true. ie. the divinity of Christ, and the way the sacraments are to be conducted. Personally I get annoyed with the implication that to reach out to the marginalised you need to jetison things the church holds dear.

Some of the commentary that can be found at eurekastreet.com.au:
St Mary's, Bishop Robinson and the value of dialogue
St Mary's quite contrary
 

Ffalstaf

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#4
I have a lot of time for Frank Brennan. Thanks for the link. :)

You're right, inclusiveness is not the root issue. I find the conflict fascinating for what it reveals about who has what power in today's Church.

St Mary's is also a symbol for a wider movement. Even in the diocese in which I grew up (in NSW), priests are experimenting with changes which their congregations want, which would have scandalised the priests who taught me in school. (Then again, a few of the priests who taught me in school have been in the news on account of their own scandals, so maybe they're not the best example.)

I don't see how one can obey everything the Church orders while reaching out to the people the Church itself marginalises. (Disclaimer: I haven't practised in over a quarter of a century, and I'm pretty sure I've earned a couple of excommunications. I've been snarled at online as a "bloody Protestant," anyway. ;) )

For anyone who wants to have a look, here is St Mary's website:
http://www.stmaryssouthbrisbane.com/
 

Ffalstaf

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A controversial Catholic priest hopes his story will give hope to others who he says have been treated unfairly by the church.

Father Peter Kennedy was dismissed as the administrator of St Mary's South Brisbane in February.

He initially defied the sacking but agreed to go after weeks of mediation.

Father Kennedy has said his final mass at St Mary's and is marching with parishioners to a new base for his breakaway group.

He says it is a positive outcome.

"Our story might give hope to all those Catholics you know who've left the church for all sorts of good reasons," he said.

"Those who've been excluded on grounds of gender or sexual orientation, or just people who have been oppressed by the doctrines and dogmas and regulations and rules of the Catholic Church."

He is planning to hold his own services at the nearby Trades and Labour Council (TLC) building.

He says hundreds of parishioners from St Mary's will go with him to his new church at the nearby TLC building.

"We are within the Catholic tradition. People are very comfortable with our kind of liturgy and it isn't a priest-centred liturgy," he said.

"That's the problem see, the Church still has a very priest-centred liturgy and our liturgy is more like it is run by the people.

"But the reality is unless the Church falls into the hands of the people there really isn't much of a future for it."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009 ... e=brisbane
 

Ffalstaf

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#7
Ah, CathNews. I hung around there a little last year (to follow the news about my old teachers' court cases) but left because I'd had enough of the editors' tolerance of extreme behaviour from the likes of Ronk. I thought it might have been just me, but then I found on the Catholica forum a comment by TonyR about being hounded into orthodoxy by Ronk, and a piece by Peregrinus which echoed my concerns. Following your link, things still look much the same.

As for Ken Howell - well, I don't envy him. He has a very tough act to follow, and I imagine there's a lot of resentment over the circumstances surrounding his coming to the parish. The parish in which I was raised suffered a similar situation - a very popular and creative priest was removed and replaced with an orthodox one. In just a couple of years, attendance at Sunday morning mass shrank from hundreds to just three - and then I left, too. The parish became vacant and was suppressed. Now it's a thriving Anglican parish. I fear Richard Stokes and John Bathersby may have achieved an equally pyrrhic victory.
 

Ffalstaf

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#8
New threat to sacked St Mary's priest Peter Kennedy


Margaret Wenham

May 06, 2009

SACKED St Mary's priest Peter Kennedy has been warned to stop holding his break-away services or face suspension from any future duties as a priest.

In the latest move in his long-running dispute with the church, Fr Kennedy has been told he could lose the right to conduct masses, except in emergency circumstances.

But Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby has stopped short of threatening the popular 77-year-old priest with excommunication.

In a letter to Fr Kennedy, Archbishop Bathersby accused Fr Kennedy of causing further harm to the communion of the Catholic Church by setting up the St Mary's-in-exile break-away group.

"Unless you cease these actions and by a formal act repent and are reconciled to the Church, I shall impose on you penalties . . . not excluding dismissal from the clerical state," Archbishop Bathersby said.

The letter was also signed by the Chancellor of the Brisbane Archdiocese, Fr Adrian Farrelly who told The Courier-Mail yesterday the penalties the Archbishop might impose ranged from stripping Fr Kennedy of his authority to perform public "priestly duties" such as masses or marriages, to banning him from functioning as a priest altogether, except in an emergency situation.

"To be told that you cannot function as a priest ever again is a very serious penalty," Fr Farrelly said.

"Excommunication is also there (as a penalty) but the Archbishop has chosen not to look at that at this stage."

The Archbishop's letter was sent within 10 days of St Stephen's Cathedral Dean, Fr Ken Howell taking over St Mary's South Brisbane, a move that prompted the approximately 1000-strong St Mary's church community to declare itself in exile and shift to the nearby Trades and Labour Council building, where Fr Kennedy has held services since.

Fr Kennedy – who was sacked as St Mary's administrator by Archbishop Bathersby following allegations he engaged in unorthodox practices, including changing words in liturgies and blessing divorced and gay couples – described the letter as "medieval gobbledygook".

He said the threats of penalties and punishment were to be expected, because the St Mary's-in-exile congregation posed a "real confrontation to the Church's patriarchal and hierarchical culture".

"There's nothing to do about it," Fr Kennedy said.

"We'll just continue on and we will continue to say we are in the Catholic tradition. It will be business at the TLC building as usual. Our numbers are very stable if not growing."

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/stor ... 02,00.html
 

SHAYBARSABE

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#10
"We'll just continue on and we will continue to say we are in the Catholic tradition. It will be business at the TLC building as usual. Our numbers are very stable if not growing."
Now that sounds familiar. Google "independent Catholic," and see what you get.

The Roman Catholic Church has the money, and, in the end, it all comes down to cash. Sad, but true.
 

decipheringscars

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#13
DougalLongfoot said:
Personally I get annoyed with the implication that to reach out to the marginalised you need to jetison things the church holds dear.
Amen!

Of course, you and I may differ on "the things the church holds dear" since I'm an Anglican, but the idea is the same.

I did much of my MA research on soteriology, and found that many of the scholars who offer excellent criticisms of "traditional" atonement theologies tended then to toss out anything orthodox, most going on to believe Jesus is just a great teacher, etc. etc. (yawn) That said, I think theologians and others should be given space to make such excursions. It's why I think we need lay theologians - priests take vows to uphold the teachings of the Church, and they should. It's OK for the Church to hold up dogmas while still welcoming to the table those who don't fully sign on to all the dogmas (they may yet, if the relationship is kept open; they might also bring the Church around when it's mistaken).

My tradition (Anglican) has typically pointed to the historic creeds, particularly the Nicene Creed, which sketches out a basic orthodoxy that doesn't overly define everything, but does give basic shape to the catholic faith. You can affirm the Nicene Creed and be completely inclusive - I've seen it done. I've seen that creed, plus basic BCP liturgy, hold together a congregation diverse in every way, including theologically. Worshiping together is our source of unity. Now that's being threatened in the Anglican Communion, which is entirely un-Anglican. :( I don't know the answer for the Catholic Church, since I disagree with its usual way to attempt unity - the papacy and hierarchy, which can enforce conformity to doctrine and practice. I'd rather have the messiness we have in Anglicanism. Either way, I think the Church needs to allow the space for some of this messiness to exist, and for it to get worked out over time through common worship, exchange of ideas (e.g., people really making the case that orthodoxy has room for inclusiveness), and, most importantly of all, through the Holy Spirit.

"We who are many are one Body because we share one Bread." Whenever we stop doing that, it is a much greater barrier than holding different doctrinal beliefs.
 
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