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Rebel church in South Brisbane

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 Contents - Nov 2008AD2000 November 2008 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: All Saints Day and All Souls Day - Peter Westmore
Victorian abortion law threatens Catholic hospitals - AD2000 Report
News: The Church Around the World
Human rights: Religious persecution in China, India, Vietnam - Fr John Flynn LC
Dissent: Business as usual at South Brisbane's rebel church - Michael Gilchrist
History: Cardinal Stafford on Humanae Vitae: how dissenters tore the Church apart - Cardinal Francis Stafford
Anima Women's Network: giving 'heart' to women of faith - Anna Krohn
Foundations of Faith: God's gift of sex: building a civilisation of life and love - Catherine Sheehan
What happened then: what matters now - Swithun Wells, martyr of England - Rosemary Lucadou-Wells
Letters: Rebel church in South Brisbane - Bob Osmak
Letters: South Brisbane parish - Catholic or not? - Richard Stokes
Letters: Turnaround needed - John Schmid
Letters: Tribute to Bob Ward - Br Con Moloney CFC
Letters: From India - Fr S. John Joseph
Poetry: The Latest Equation - Bruce Dawe
Books: THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD: Essays Catholic and Contemporary, by John Haldane - Tim Cannon (reviewer)
Books: A STORY AND PAINTINGS by Don Gallagher CFC - Michael Gilchrist
Books: Books available from AD Books
Reflection: Purgatory: hope, mercy, love - Bishop Peter J. Elliott

In a letter dated 22 August 2008, Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane demanded that St Mary's Church, South Brisbane, bring its practices into line with the Catholic Church or face closure (see October AD2000, page 3).

In 2004 the Archbishop had written to the parish about its invalid baptisms, and other problems cited over time have included women preaching, the blessing of homosexual couples, gay and lesbian choir practices inside the church, irregular prayers used during Masses, and the presence of a Buddhist statue in front of the altar.

In order to assess the impact of Archbishop Bathersby's letter, two of us visited St Mary's for Sunday Mass on 7 September 2008.

It was my first visit to St Mary's, which is a large, beautiful, heritage-listed church set on a hill and is one of the most impressive in Brisbane. However, this impression was marred by a large politically-inspired poster 'All Different All Equal', displayed in front of the church.

Upon entering the church one was immediately awed by its beauty but shocked by the partial camouflaging of its grandeur, with the ornate imposing altar left unused in semi-darkness while in front of the life-size statues of Our Lord and Our Lady were political posters and strange prayers, the kind seen at political rallies.

During Mass, the Administrator Fr Peter Kennedy explained the role of the stole he was wearing. It represented, he said, the hierarchical Church and its authority. 'To subvert that message,' he added, 'we wear an Aboriginal stole or a stole of East Timor which represents the fact that we are in solidarity with those who are poor, excluded and suffering ... so we subvert that authority by wearing Jesus' stole.'

It was evident that the priest was thumbing his nose at his superior, the Archbishop, who the previous week had sought to impose order in the religious ceremonies at St Mary's.

During Mass, the presiding priest, Fr Terry Fitzpatrick, did not wear the prescribed vestments, sporting instead a blue T-shirt and blue-jean pants while giving a sermon in which he repeated St Mary's claim to independence and the right to be different.

At the Consecration, Fr Fitzpatrick invited everyone to gather around the table as he spoke the words of Consecration. After Mass, we witnessed five baptisms by Fr Peter Kennedy. In one of them he used the words: '[Name], we baptise you in the name of God, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the God of Love, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of life.'

Will St Mary's close itself down? It seems disinclined to do so with its priests continuing to defy the Archbishop and to stonewall, in the hope that their few 'concessions' will be enough to satisfy the Archbishop.

The ball is now very much in the Archbishop's court.

Caboolture, Qld

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 10 (November 2008), p. 14

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