Saturday, February 14, 2009

Update: Rogue Australian priest vows not to go down quietly

A little dissent leads to lots of dissent. Fuzzy, loop-hole theology which was the staple at some seminaries throughout the world for decades is manifested in what we see going on here. Since this matter has been going on for some six years, it is also an example of how bad things can get when it is not nipped early. An entire flock is in danger of falling away because they don't have the necessary, authentic catechesis to see the gravity of this thing, in which they are involved. If you watch the video clip in the first link below, you will see that everything is based on emotion and feelings, not anything objective.

You may recall the odd case of a priest in Australia I covered last week (with video clip) who has taken his parish to such extremes that what goes on there can only be described as no longer Catholic. Even the baptisms do not use the proper formula so they are invalid. Archbishop Bathersby of Brisbane has been working to bring the priest and his parish back into communion for six months now and the countdown is on with just 8 days left.

Initially, it sounded like the rogue priest would simply leave after the 21st and take a chunk of his congregation with him to some other place. What has changed in the past week is that the priest said he will not go down quietly.

This situation deserves our deepest prayers, as well as acts of reparation.

The archbishop said that he will call in the police to remove Fr. Kennedy if necessary. Two officers have already paid one visit, but were unable to make contact with the priest.

Emphases in bold mine, as are comments bracketed in red...

From the Catholic Leader in Australia:

ST Mary’s Parish in South Brisbane, at odds with the Church over matters of communion, will be administered by the St Stephen’s Cathedral dean Fr Ken Howell from next Saturday, February 21. [pray for this priest as he will have his hands full]

Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane in a letter informed St Mary’s administrator Fr Peter Kennedy last weekend that he was cancelling his appointment, unless he “were to resign beforehand”.

Fr Kennedy and the St Mary’s community had failed to agree to directives from the archbishop for Fr Kennedy to cease practices at St Mary’s “that separated it from communion with the Roman Catholic Church”.

In an August 22 letter to Fr Kennedy last year, the archbishop listed problematic practices in four matters – those of faith, liturgy, governance and authority.

Australian Catholic University’s theology and philosophy associate professor Fr David Pascoe told The Catholic Leader he believed, for Archbishop Bathersby, Fr Kennedy had never satisfactorily attended to these theological issues which “are at the heart of the St Mary’s problem”.

However, Fr Kennedy, speaking at St Mary’s Church last Sunday, while acknowledging that “liturgical rules had been broken”, said the community had “done nothing to deserve exclusion from communion with the Church”.
[trust me, the breaking of liturgical rubrics was not at the top of the list, as bad as they were. There are invalid baptisms taking place there, among other things]

Archbishop Bathersby in an interview on ABC radio last Monday said Fr Kennedy’s role as “shepherd of the flock” was “enormously important”.

“I think the theology of South Brisbane is what is quite a big problem there, whether they believe in Jesus, whether they believe in the Trinity, whether they baptise the correct way, whether they celebrate Mass the correct way, all of those things,” he said.

Fr Pascoe said the archbishop’s letter in August had been a significant moment in the exchange between the parish of St Mary’s and the archbishop.

“In the archbishop’s letter there were four key matters that needed to be addressed by St Mary’s,” he said.

“These are the major theological issues where the archbishop sees that the community has put itself outside communion with the Catholic Church.

“These issues were under the headings of faith, liturgy, governance and authority.”

Fr Pascoe said that Fr Kennedy’s claim that St Mary’s was in communion with the Catholic Church was “simply not enough”.

“Any response clearly didn’t adequately address the major issues as outlined by the archbishop to show how they were in communion with the Church as a whole,” he said.

Archbishop Bathersby has advised Fr Kennedy that if he wishes to retire from active service as a priest he will be assisted in the same fashion as any other retired archdiocesan priest
. [please pray that he chooses this option]
We get a deeper glimpse at just how bad things are in this recent Courier Mail article

"It's not a situation I want to face, but nevertheless, with advice, I'll do what I have to do," the Archbishop told The Courier-Mail.

"I would hope it would not come to that because it wouldn't be good for South Brisbane, it wouldn't be good for the church, it wouldn't be good for Christianity in general."

Father Kennedy said this week he would not leave quietly amid talks of a sit-in by parishioners.

Archbishop Bathersby said he anticipated the sacking of the 71-year-old rogue priest would result in many members of the congregation leaving St Mary's, but warned Father Kennedy faced excommunication if he continued in the same vein.

Some of the complaints against Father Kennedy include allowing a Buddhist statue in the church, changing the words when performing sacraments and questioning the virgin birth of Jesus.

To deny Jesus was (the) Son of God is to absolutely destroy the Christian faith," Archbishop Bathersby said.

The Archbishop also questioned the legitimacy of some marriages over which Father Kennedy presided.

He also acknowledged the situation had caused a considerable backlash in the Catholic community.

"Here are Christians writing to me and calling me the most abominable names and cursing me to kingdom come - (saying) 'may you fry in hell's fire forever and ever'," he said.

"Not to mention the real swear words that come through the phone and these are supposed to be members of the Christian community."
This does not look good and with the priest digging in his heals, this sad ending is about to get worse.

UPDATE: Fr. Peter Kennedy collapsed following what could have been his last Mass at St. Mary's. He is supposedly fine, but his emotions got the best of him. Please continue to pray for this priest, the congregation and Archbishop Bathersby.

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!


Diane M. Korzeniewski said...

To "Australian Lover of God"...

I regret that I could not post your comment. While I appreciate the fact that you did not use vulgarities or resort to name-calling (things which are never justifiable), your comment could not be used nonetheless.

I did not use it because I felt it was not an attempt at reasoned discussion about the Catholic faith, but an attack on it.

You say you were not taught anything in your catechism class. I know that one well. I grew up in an era where "my butterfly and me" catechesis dominated. It was all fluff and no substance.

However, once we recognize we have not been properly taught, we have a responsibility to learn using tools promoted by the Catholic Church, especially the Catecheism of the Catholic Church.

You bring up several times the pedophile priest scandal. This has nothing to do with the objective facts surrounding false doctrines being publicly taught at St. Mary's.

Please keep in mind that Judas was a priest, legitimately called by Christ. Hence, he had a vocation. But God gave him a free will, as he does all of us, and Judas chose greed, and ultimately a path of pride, rather than humility. Had he repented, surely Our Lord would have received him back with open arms.

The example of Judas teaches us many things. The other apostles were not to be held accountable or guilty for the actions of Judas. Nor was the Church responsible for the actions of Judas. People cannot justify leaving the Church on account of Judas because if that were the case, She wouldn't have survived over 2000 years.

Priests are sinful creatures like the rest of us and are capapble of serious sin. Bishops too, are sinful creatures who may make bad decisions. Sometimes those bad decisions are rooted in their own sinfulness and other times, they are rooted in misguided attempt to do good.

Furthermore, all bishops and priests cannot be stereotyped based on the sins of a few, any more than all the apostles could be stereotyped as greedy based on Judas.

Priests and bishops deserve our prayers, as do victims not only of sex abuse, but those who would fall into what amounts to a "venus fly trap" for unsuspecting faithful. Some of those people at St. Mary's may believe the Catholic faith has been presented to them. Others, however, are looking for a priest - any priest, including one who is rogue - to validate their ideal of what catholicism should be.

If someone's brand of Catholicism is not aligned with Peter, then it is not Catholic. This is true whether it is someone on the right - insisting the Chair is vacant, or someone on the left who wants doctrine to be flexible based on the needs of everyone, everywhere, anytime.

God bless and prayers. You were in my Mass intentions this morning.

What George Cardinal Pell said... said...

(Note: I have copied this comment and pasted it here after it fell into the wrong combox)

George Cardinal Pell
I am grateful to you for sharing your thoughts on this matter with me.

As Archbishop of Sydney I have no authority over priests or parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, but I strongly support the action Archbishop Bathersby has taken. The point is not whether Fr Kennedy is a good man, if disobedient, doing good social work; but whether his teachings and practices are compatible with the essentials of Catholic tradition.

yours sincerely,
+George Cardinal Pell