Following Archbishop Bathersby's letter to the rebel church of St Mary's, South Brisbane, on 29 September, I attended one of the 'community' meetings intended to work out what to do so as to address the Archbishop's letter in which he directs the parish to align itself with the Catholic Church, particularly in regard to the norms of the sacraments and the Mass.
A succession of speakers heaped praise on themselves and each other, affirming how Jesus would have loved the work they do, and how much they care for the poor and the aborigines. And particularly how they don't want those people in Rome telling them what to do.
I managed to get the microphone for a few moments, and said that Christ appointed Peter, not one of them, as head of the Church, and that if we reject Rome, then we are outside the Church.
This brought a furious attack from the parish Administrator Fr Kennedy who denounced me as the one who 'took all those photos [including of the Buddhist statue] and sent them to Rome.'
The speakers discussed strategies. Not one suggested conforming with the Church, except insofar as to ensure that they would keep 'their' church. They talked about staying in the Catholic Church and changing it from within. They talked about a meeting with the Archbishop.
But in the end nothing was decided, except that Fr Kennedy said he could not go back to wearing an alb, nor to using a Eucharistic Prayer laid down by the Church. He was quite plain about changing nothing - more or less daring the Archbishop to throw him out. It seemed he was prepared to walk away.
Father Kennedy came over to me after the meeting, and started to harangue me about the things I had supposedly done. I am not a parishioner, he said, and I have no right to be in his church. I told him that I had been coming there at least weekly for two years. I did not have the right to write to the Archbishop or to Rome, continued Fr Kennedy.
For someone who spends much of his time talking about tolerance and inclusiveness, his actions were remarkably exclusive and intolerant.
To sum up, I spent two hours in the church of diversity, equality, peace, inclusiveness and tolerance, without experiencing any of these.