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]We get a deeper glimpse at just how bad things are in this recent Courier Mail article
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]
"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.This does not look good and with the priest digging in his heals, this sad ending is about to get worse.
"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."
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.
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!