Jesus Wept

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 21, 2009 | Categories: Accountability, Bishops, Dissent, History, Lesbians & Gays

Fr. Peter Kennedy, 71, was removed as pastor of St. Mary’s, South Brisbane, Australia, by Archbishop John A. Bathersby earlier this week.   This action was a tremendous loss not only to the parishioners of St. Mary’s, but all Catholics around the world that look for points of light–parishes, groups, schools, retreat centers, religious people, theologians, authors, bloggers–to take hope and comfort in knowing light from an open door shines for us. stmarys-2.jpg

Archbishop Bathersby accused Fr. Kennedy of being “out of communion” with the church by allowing women to preach the homily, giving Communion to gay and divorced people, baptizing babies using unorthodox wording, criticizing the pope and not wearing traditional vestments.

The archbishop’s decree said Fr. Kennedy had “caused harm to ecclesiastical communion in spite of frequent requests from me to do otherwise.”

“The question for me,” said Archbishop Bathersby, “is not so much whether St. Mary’s should be closed down, but whether St. Mary’s will close itself down by practices that separate it from communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”

“In reality St. Mary’s South Brisbane has taken a Roman Catholic parish and established its own brand of religion,” he said. “Undoubtedly it does good, it promotes a strong sense of community, opens its doors to all who wish to come, but its own style of worship and sacramental practice can hardly be described as Roman Catholic.”

The conflict between Archbishop Bathersby and the parish community of St. Mary’s stretches back at least  six years.

In 2004 the Archbishop demanded that Fr. Kennedy comply with Redemptionis Sacramentum, follow the liturgical norms and stop baptizing people “in the Name of the Creator and the Liberator and of the Sustainer.” Fr. Kennedy countered that they were doing this to make the sacrament “more inclusive, less patriarchal.” fr-kennedy.jpg

The parish previously angered conservatives in the church by welcoming gay couples and allowing the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Choir to perform there in June 2003 as part of Brisbane Pride Festival celebrations. Archbishop Bathersby opposed the performance and said it was “inappropriate.”

Tony Robertson, who belongs to St. Mary’s, said parishioners were rallying to save their parish. Robertson blogs on Out and About with Tony – A Queer Perspective on Life as  a Gay Catholic.

“St. Mary’s is a church which takes seriously its identity as a Catholic community and practices the teachings of the Catholic Church which calls for homosexual persons be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,” Robertson said.

“Such acceptance calls for practical action which welcomes gay and lesbian people to the life and worship of the community.”

Robertson noted that other Catholic churches also welcome sexual minorities, including one church that flies the rainbow flag among its public decorations.

“Those who have concerns about our support for sexual minorities need to remember that the Catholic Church also teaches that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.   In this spirit the Church has opened its doors to the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir who use the Church for weekly rehersals as well as supporting the musical and religious culture of St. Mary’s,” he said.

“Gay and lesbian Catholics  who prefer a more traditional worship have always been a presence at the Cathedral of St. Stephen where one of the beautiful stained glass windows is dedicated to a gay member of the famous Mayne Family of Brisbane,” he added.

“Jesus Wept” at the loss of a relationship, not the interpretation of a rule.

Follow the St. Mary’s situation on St. Mary’s Discussion Forum.

Show your support for St. Mary’s on their MySpace page.

Interesting notes on gay history in the Mayne family can be found on page 229 in Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich.

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