Monday, December 1, 2008

Aboriginal leader Dennis Walker speaking during the Sacred Treaty Ceremony held at St. Mary's, Brisbane AU, Sunday, November 30th.

I have previously posted a Eucharistic prayer used by St. Mary's. At the time I posted this prayer there were rumblings that the parish was headed for confrontation with Rome. The following concerns the parish's response to the diocesan bishop who is contemplating closure of the parish or formal excommunication:

MEMBERS of a controversial Brisbane parish have rejected a charge that they are out of step with the Catholic Church in Rome and should close.

The parishioners of St Mary's South Brisbane and their priest Father Peter Kennedy yesterday signed a six-page letter to Archbishop John Bathersby, answering charges he levelled at the popular parish earlier this year.

"St Mary's gives no disrespect (questioning perhaps and sometimes humour, but not disrespect) and prays for none in return," the letter said.

The inquiry into the church was sparked by a disaffected churchgoer, who complained to Rome about unorthodox masses being conducted and a statue of a Buddhist monk being placed in the church. (If this is actually true, that the complaints of one 'churchgoer' will bring on the closure of this vibrant parish, then this is truly a travesty of justice.)

In his August 22 letter to St Mary's, Archbishop Bathersby cited several issues, including the unconventional liturgies and the hierarchical authority of the Church not being respected. "The question for me," the Archbishop wrote, "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. (Thank God for the whole notion of self excommunication because it precludes the whole tedious business of actually having to listen to a different interpretation of what it means to be Roman Catholic.)

"The church - which has previously caused eyebrows to be raised for its welcoming of gay and divorced Catholics - was given until today to respond.

Father Kennedy said it would not be appropriate for him to comment until Archbishop Bathersby had fully considered the letter, which outlined the church's good works with unions, women's groups, gay people, indigenous people and victims of abuse from within and outside the Church. (Sounds like this parish deals with the least of us. No wonder Opus Dei doesn't approve, no money in the ministry.)

"Whether or not we agree on everything, St Mary's is part of the Catholic Church," the letter said.

"We are in communion with that very same Church. We ask that you respect our decision to declare ourselves, as you asked, to be in communion with the Catholic Church."

If the church is forced by the Brisbane Archdiocese to close, it would be a first for the Catholic Church in Australia. (and another Vatican brownie point for Cardinal Pell.)
That St. Mary's is seriously frowned on by the Vatican is hardly earth shaking news. Stage IV spirituality often appears to Stage II institutions to be radical and confrontational when in fact it's the opposite. No, what was interesting to me was the picture of Dennis Walker signing the Sacred Circle Treaty.
I had seen photos of him with Leon Secartero. Leon had incredible stories of how Australian Aboriginals kept in touch with their counter parts in America. Believe me, these weren't stories about the inter net or Fed Ex. Somehow they were able to send messages via traditional musical instruments through Sacred sites on each other's historical tribal lands.
I have spoken with both Natives and whites who experienced the validity of the phenomenon. Dennis Walker's world, like Leon Secatero's world, is not our white world. Theirs is a world based on the application of traditional spirituality and purposefully developed talents of human consciousness which their world view supports and our does not.
One reason our world does not support the development of these human talents is because ours is a world based in hierarchies and theirs is a world based on circles. They can live in a both/and world with the ease in which we live in an either/or world. St. Mary's is then the perfect example of the differences between the two approaches. On the same day the parish is responding to a threat of excommunication from their hierarchical authorities, they are signing a Sacred Circle treaty with Aboriginal spiritual leaders.
This is possible because indigenous spiritual elders look for true spiritual power and not secular power. Spiritual power is always based in concepts of inclusion, equality, compassion and love.
Obedience, one of the hallmarks of Western hierarchical systems, is not a particularly valued trait with in Indigenous Native spirituality's. They value informed consent, which is a different proposition, but can look like obedience. Informed consent is seen as an ongoing process and not an end state. In other words, the messages one may get from Holy One's and ancestors will evolve and deepen as one's spirituality becomes more informed and mature. This is Stage IV thinking.
St. Mary's seems to me to have opted to take the Stage IV path and on the day one door closes on them, another door opens and accepts them. For St. Mary's there is no going back through the old door. It would be akin to an adult trying to fit into clothes from childhood. That's the trouble with the spiritual path, once one goes so far and new doors open, the old ways hold no appeal. The new understandings, the new view, is too enticing, too full of new mysteries and too full of hope.
So rather than commiserate with St. Mary's, I have great gratitude that another group of Catholic people is affirming a much more positive and hopeful world view. I rejoice in their signing of the Sacred Circle Treaty, and where ever Leon watches from now, I know he's rejoicing as well. And finally, it's not that St. Mary's is out of step with Catholicism, it's that the Catholicism of the current Vatican is out of step with them.


  1. More good news. It lifts my heart every time I see another person or group take a stand for something higher and greater than the 2000 year old rhetoric that is obviously no longer working.

    Your comment about opus die and money in my opinion is dead on.

    The world is changing, and it feels like the changes are happening faster and faster.

  2. How can a group be in communion with the Catholic Church yet reject what the church teaches?

    They need to get some good orthodox priests in there to teach the faith.

  3. I don't know that they are exactly out of step. They are part of a definite tradition with in Catholicism, such as the original Franciscan idea, which is no longer in vogue with the Vatican.

    One of the problems I have with Benedict is he talks a very developed both/and theology and then excommunicates anyone who actually practices it.

    Carl: The times they are a gettin' interesting. I love the internet. Information is no longer under the control of anyone and like minded people are finding like minded people all over the world. Who knows what may eventually happen.

  4. I don't understand your support for this. I really don't know what to say.

    But friend God is in control of the Church. He has led the Church to organically develop until today. The dogmas of the Church cannot change and never will change.
    This parish, which you hold in such high esteem, has numerous problems. Even if the parish, as you say, is vibrant and has numerous people going I pose the question "is it worth it?"
    What are they actually worshipping? The same God as the one in the Bible?

    So far I have heard the following of them:
    1) One of the priests there says that Jesus is not God.
    2) changing the baptismal prayers to make the holy sacrament of baptism invalid.
    3) changing the Eucharist prayer to make the consecration invalid.
    4) having Buddhist statues on the alter. Buddhism is not a true religion. Catholicism is the religion God placed upon the earth to guide people to him. Other religions are mans way of trying to find God. Not the other way around like Catholicism.

    This is the main problem I have with modernist Catholics. You really do think you are more Catholic than the pope. God speaks to you...but not the evil hierarchy. for the outated 2,000 year old rhetoric...the Catholic Church was created by God 2,000 yeras ago. If people are not listening to the rhetoric it is not because the rhetoric is no longer relevant for today. What the Church teaches will ALWAYS remain relevant for those who have ears to listen and eyes to see.

    Even the name "enlightened Catholicism" sounds terribly arrogant. Enlightened by what?

    Praise God and thankyou for listening.

  5. Here's a thought for you friend anonnymous. With in the first 35 years of the Church there was a very definite and strong disagreement between the Hellenists and Jerusalem based Christians. This eventually played out between Paul and his Law Free Church and the fathers at Jerusalem.

    Paul believed it wasn't necessary to follow OT Jewish laws and regulations to belong in the family of Christ and partake in the Salvation He offers. James and Peter had distinctly different ideas. The two groups disagreed strongly.

    Eventually Paul either won, or went on as if he had won this battle and gentiles did not have to endure circumcision or follow the entirety of the Leviticus code.

    Nothing has changed much in the intervening millenia. We still argue about rules, regulations, and dogmas, and Jesus still has the final say. In my book, understanding that is enlightened and that IS traditional Catholicism.

    I see very little in the St. Mary's situation in which they are violating the spirit of any law, rule or dogma. The whole power of prayer of any sort is in the intent not the words.

  6. In another post on NCR, anonymous wrote:

    "Pray for all directly involved (the magisterial authorities). That they may be attentive to the promptings of our Lord the Holy Spirit."

    Anonymous is correct that we should pray, however, he is incorrect about how and what we should pray for the leadership.

    The majority of the bishops have chosen to reject christ and christ's teachings. They have chosen to reject the truth that Jesus taught. They have chosen to serve their own false gods over the One True God. Their actions are well documentated and public record now. More are surfacing every day.

    They know the truth, they have been trained in the scriptures, and in spite of that training and knowledge, they have consistently chosen to reject the truth of Jesus for their own personal agendas and their own personal gain. They have chosen ruby slippers and tiaras over the pastoral needs of their flocks. They have chosen personal power over integrity. They have chosen to deceive the laity instead of teach and live the truth. Not once, but multitudes of times.

    They are not repentant. They continue to repeat the same behaviors in ever increasing frequency. They are the educated, they are the ones who were entrusted with the deposit of truth, they are the ones who know the truth that is revealed in the scriptures.

    As I was reading the other posts in that article it occurred to me that there is no longer any hope of repentance for them in this lifetime. Nor is there any hope for anonymous and those who so adamantly support and defend these bishops.

    Their acts and actions are the unpardonable sin that Jesus spoke of.

    While all things are possible with God, God also gives free will. These bishops have chosen to exercise their free will and turn away from the One True God in order to serve their false gods. As a result, they have chosen to commit the unpardonable sin.

    Ironically, the punishment they have so freely inflicted on others who disagreed with them, they now inadvertantly inflict on themselves as well:

    they have self excommunicated themselves from communion with Christ.

  7. Anonymous, you really need to work on your facts.

    The catholic church was created approx 300ad by the council of nicea. Those who say it was created earlier are lying in a pathetic attempt to lend credibility to the doctrine of lies they have fostered on an uneducated laity over the centuries.