Rebel South Brisbane priest: new cafeteria church launched

Rebel South Brisbane priest: new cafeteria church launched

Michael Gilchrist

Fr Peter Kennedy, former administrator of St Mary's, South Brisbane, left no-one in any doubt as to his views on Church teachings during an appearance on the ABC1 TV program Q&A on 19 March.

On 21 February Archbishop Bathersby had removed Fr Kennedy from his position as administrator since he declined to rectify a long list of un-Catholic practices which the Archbishop had listed in a letter in August 2008.

Fr Kennedy and his dissenting followers from around Brisbane initially refused to vacate the church making it impossible for the new administrator, Fr Ken Howell, to take over. However, at the time of writing, Fr Kennedy had finally agreed to vacate the church after 19 April and to relocate in the nearby Trades and Labour Council building.

From what he has said on radio and TV in recent weeks, it is clear Fr Kennedy has the doctrinal basis for a cafeteria church of his own design.

While Fr Kennedy blamed his difficulties on 'ultra-conservatives' reporting him to Rome, his bizarre Masses have long been an open secret.

Weird, non-approved 'Eucharistic Prayers' have been a regular feature, along with the congregation reciting the words of Consecration, lay people serving as homilists (including recently a pro-abortion feminist), and assorted New Age readings, to name but a few flagrant abuses.

Copies of St Mary's Mass sheets containing the above have been widely circulated, and in the absence of official action after numerous complaints, were sent to the Vatican.

'Vatican II Catholics'

During his appearance on the Q&A program, Fr Kennedy made no secret of his beliefs and practices, which he claims make him and his supporters 'Vatican II Catholics'.

In response to one question, he said, 'Yes, there have been blessings of gay and lesbian people ... [I'm] very happy to do that because it's just one of the terrible things that a church does, [when it] excludes people who are gay and lesbian ... As long as you remain celibate, it's OK to be gay and lesbian, but if you enter into an intimate relationship, whether you're lesbian or gay guys, then that is sinful in the eyes of the Church.'

Regarding the divinity of Jesus, Fr Kennedy observed, 'Jesus was a Jew and it would have been the utmost blasphemy for a Jew to say that he or she was God ... The first 300 years of Christianity [saw] all sorts of beliefs about Jesus ... Nothing is said in the first three gospels, which were written 40, 50, 60 years later. Nothing [is] there to say that Jesus is the son of God ... That would have been utter blasphemy for a Jew to say that about himself.'

Tony Abbott, who was a participant in the program, disagreed: 'But Jesus did make big claims for himself ... and certainly in all the subsequent centuries the Church has made very big claims ... We either play by the rules or we go off and do our good works, but outside the team, in a sense ...'.

Fr Kennedy replied: 'It depends on your model of church, you see, and when the Archbishop has the same model, you know, like it's a club, and if you keep the rules, then everything's fine, but Vatican II came along and talked about a model of church being the people of God ... Unless the Church falls into the hands of the people, it's not going anywhere ... It's important to make the point that the Church in Vatican II terms is the people of God ... but we have no say about electing our Bishop and we can't throw him out. It's a very hierarchical institution.'

The discussion then turned to the Church's moral teachings. Fr Kennedy commented: 'The Church really is so wrong about its teaching on sex, and one of the reasons is because women are excluded from any say in the teaching authority of the Church ... It's all unmarried men who are talking about women's issues like contraception, like abortion ...

'The Catholic Church in the Philippines, because they are so strong, because the bishops are so strong, [is able to ensure] there are no abortion clinics. So many women who have six, seven, eight, nine children, and then don't think they can possibly support another child, have an abortion in a backyard abortion clinic. It's the hypocrisy, really, of the Church, in not allowing that freedom to women if that's their choice, in places like the Philippines, and very Catholic countries.'

Legal proceedings

In addition to Q&A, Fr Kennedy has been interviewed on several ABC radio programs. On one he said he didn't believe in heaven or hell (27 January) and on another (Encounter, 15 March), 'We couldn't go back to wearing an alb and saying one of those approved Eucharistic prayers because they're all about this Elsewhere God that must be worshipped and sent his son to save us and sent his son to die upon the cross so that God's justice could be remedied. I mean, what sort of a God is that? It's the Elsewhere God. It's not the God of mystery and the ineffable God.'

On 16 March, the Catholic Church in Brisbane began legal proceedings to remove Fr Kennedy. Canon lawyer and Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Fr Adrian Farrelly, said that Fr Kennedy, having been removed as administrator of St Mary's, had refused to participate in an independent mediation process to have been facilitated by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, QC.

However, it appears the matter has been finally settled and South Brisbane's new cafeteria church will open for business after 19 April while at long last St Mary's Church is restored to communion with the universal Catholic Church.

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