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.
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”.
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.