Friday, June 5, 2009

Fr Kennedy No Longer Has Access To The Account And Can't Use His Passwords

Catholic Church bans Qld's rebel priest
AAP June 5, 2009, 5:54 pm

A rebel clergyman says an order banning him from functioning as a Catholic priest anywhere in the world has freed him from a corrupt, irrelevant and ruthless institution.

Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby on Friday suspended Father Peter Kennedy from all priestly activities.

The decree follows Fr Kennedy's removal from the parish of St Mary's, South Brisbane, and his setting up of a group known as "St Mary's in Exile" at the Trades and Labour Council building near his former church.

Fr Kennedy says he was expecting the order.
"There's one more big Roman missile coming our way I think, which will be excommunication for myself anyway," he said.

"Nothing has changed for me - our community at the TLC building will continue as normal."
Fr Kennedy said he will hold mass again on Saturday evening and Sunday despite the order.
"The congregation is increasing because people who've been excluded from the church or have walked away because they felt quite powerless - some of those people are coming back to us," he said.

"In fact some people actually say they're really happy to come down here because it's not a church building."

Fr Kennedy said Friday's edict had left him with a feeling of freedom.
"It's certainly freeing us up from a very corrupt and irrelevant and ruthless institution," he said.
Fr Kennedy was previously found to be out of step with the church for allowing women to preach the homily, using unorthodox prayers, having a Buddhist statue in his church and blessing same-sex relationships.

Archbishop Bathersby said in a statement he had suspended Fr Kennedy from "all priestly activities" and revoked Fr Kennedy's ability to officiate at weddings, preach and hear confessions.

He also imposed restrictions on Toowoomba priest Father Terry Fitzpatrick, who works with Fr Kennedy.

The church's top legal officer, Chancellor Adrian Farrelly, said the suspension was "a very serious matter".

"Fr Kennedy has consistently ignored a series of formal directives, following years of informal requests from the archbishop to conform with universal Catholic practices," Father Farrelly said.
"The Catholic Church has laws that regulate throughout the world the celebration of sacraments and pastoral care of people which Fr Kennedy has continued to flout.

"These present decrees are about ensuring that Catholics within the archdiocese of Brisbane and beyond can continue to have confidence that the sacraments they are obtaining from all priests are celebrated validly and that pastoral practices and teaching are in harmony with accepted church directives."


Since it doesn't seem that St. Mary's in Exile is losing any membership, and in fact gaining membership, the writ of Excommunication can't be far behind. St. Mary's is in schism, no doubt about that. That doesn't mean they are totally wrong. It depends on your understanding of Church and Sacramentality.

The Archdiocese is defending the traditional position that clothes, words, and rubrics determine the validity of the sacraments. It is not the independent action of the Trinity that determines the efficacy of the sacrament, it's the proper setting of the proper channels via words and rubrics. This is sort of like using a password to access your email account. Wrong password, no access. Some of us have a difficult time believing Jesus set up a password system to access his grace and love. So do the people at St. Mary's.

The conflict at St Mary's is very much a conflict over sacramental access and who is authorized to use the Sacramental passwords. St Mary's operates under the assumption that the only password one needs is baptism and that gives you access to the entire Catholic web page.

Archbishop Bathersby, in defending the Church's traditional stance, is saying Baptism only gives laity limited access and no access to any of the passwords. The laity have to wait for one of the password keepers to open a given sacramental page for them. Just like my daughter had to wait for me to put my magic finger print on the finger print reader to open this computer for her. She absolutely hated that particular security function--probably as much as I hate it when she changes all my personal settings. In that sense, I can almost sympathise with Archbishop Bathersby. He gave Fr. Kennedy access and Fr. Kennedy is changing all the personal settings.

Except, Catholicism is not a computer program. It's a living Faith whose grace is supposed to be available at all times for all people. I can't believe God has any need to limit access to only those who have the magic finger prints. That's not God. That's the human need to define special people and give them special access so other people can be powerless in the face of their specialness.

In the next decade or two there will be a whole lot more St. Mary's in Exile and St. Stephen's in Minneapolis, and St. Stanislas Kostka's in St. Louis. They will be communities for both progressives and traditionalists and those who just want to attend Mass in any community. Their celebrants will come from all walks of life and diverse sources and Rome will have lost a great deal of control over the Sacramental expression of Catholicism. There won't be much choice in this because there just aren't enough priests. The will of the people will find a way.

Very much like my daughter finally figured out a way to get past my magic finger print. She set up her own access account after I had let her in. As the administrator I suppose I could excommunicate her account, but in the interests of family harmony, I don't think that's the best response. I don't think excommunication is ever the best response because it just hardens both positions and the Vatican has far more to lose than St. Mary's does. Once people start questioning the theology of excommunication they too frequently come to the conclusion it has no spiritual validity. That might not be where the Vatican really wants to go if their object is to protect their priestly password system.



  1. "People Must Fight Spiritual Pollution" was a recent statement from Pope Benedict and which was posted in this blog a few days ago. If only the Pope would identify the real sources of spiritual pollution and root it out and end such practices within the institution such as misogyny, gay bashing, enabling pedophiles, forced celibacy for priests, marriage tribunals, to mention a few.

    Also the Pope said on Pentecost Sunday
    "The Holy Spirit, which was poured out on the disciples at Pentecost and available to every follower of Jesus for all time, is the "healthy air" of love."

    Excommunication has nothing to do with love and the Church should have some sense that they know this is wrong and unproductive and unloving. The Holy Spirit lives on within those who follow Jesus Christ.

  2. My $0.02.....

    1. Even Traditionalists must agree that: a) a priest/bishop is validly ordained as long as the one ordaining him comes from a valid line of succession.....whether or not Rome approves:)
    2. Once ordained, a priest remains a priest. He is empowered to say mass, absolve sins, etc. That authority come from Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rome has NO power to take that away. Whether or not they choose to officially recognize his another matter.
    3. No man can separate you from God - the Gospel tells us this. Thus 'excommunication' is & always was a joke. All it means is: "we do not approve of you - and you are not part of our clubhouse". best. Yet ppl have been tortured & murdered for this.
    4. Christ did not establish His Church to pose as if they were the 'gatekeepers to God'. Rather, the primary "Key" they were given was the Gospel itself - which was to be spread freely, primarily by example (!), and NOT to be shoved down ppl's throats! It was to be taught gently to those who would freely listen, as Christ did.
    5. While I do not agree with everything Kennedy has done, the main thrust is to try to BE Christ to & for others. To give ppl the opportunity to learn of God, and deepen their relationship with Him. To open the channels of grace in the Sacraments for all to drink their fill of.

    ....not to haughtily dispense them as if from an eyedropper, when it pleases the Church to do so.....!

    When Jesus preached - all were welsome. Believers & unbelievers. Skeptics, Those who hated Him; those who were spying on Him. Those mired in sin, and those living justly. Pagans, Jews & Gentiles alike. He also fed them - attending to their human, material need without discrimination.

    ....or an application form or background check, to see if they were worthy of food - material of physical!

    Kennedy is very correct in saying that the Church is deaf to the Holy Spirit - in its organization & Administrators.

  3. Excommunication can only harm you if you get your paycheck from the church. "If you take the queen's shilling, you must do the queen's bidding."

    Now that Fr. Kennedy is free from that obligation, he is free to be a priest again. He now knows that the opposite of depression isn’t joy, it is vitality.

    He no longer is in danger of ever being considered a demagogue that, in the words of H. L. Mencken, is someone “who tells what he knows to be lies to the people he knows to be idiots.”

    “How many of us know priests and lay people, active in parishes and dioceses, who compromise their core beliefs so as to carry on the good work they are doing within church structures? Whether the issue is eucharistic inclusivity, option for the poor, a thinking laity, married clergy, women’s ordination, homosexuality, contraception, our Church fosters a culture of keeping quiet so as to keep going. Sometimes the pressure from above is overt, but we are all subject to that subtlest form of institutional intimidation which everyone registers without it having to be articulated. We watch the few who persist in standing against it being marginalised or pushed out altogether; their whole lives can be taken apart. Many, both young and lifelong churchgoers, can no longer accept it and are walking away. Meanwhile those who slip into capitulating to it progressively deform their spiritual integrity. Of course, the Protestant tradition and secular society have long picked up the tenor of hypocrisy about Catholicism. After Vatican II, though, many of us felt we were on the way to being freed from it. But the volume now seems to be ratcheting up again. How can we commit to the Church we love without dancing to this particular tune?”

    Letter in The Tablet, 3 January 2009

    Jim McCrea

  4. My guess is that the average age of Father Kennedy's congregation - becuase that is what it has become: his own little personal flock built around his own personality - is probably about 60. They are probably old hippies or rich, suburban white folk.

  5. "They are probably old hippies or rich, suburban white folk."

    So, what's your point Anonymous?

  6. Fr Kennedy's congregation is multi generational with in families and very diverse. If it was just a bunch of blue haired hippies Bathersby would never have bothered. It's the fact it's not one dimensional that made St. Mary's such a threat.

  7. I think we should add to the list of spiritual pollution those who bash all baby boomers who are not right wing fascist fundamentalist hate-mongers and are labeled "hippies."

    Two words that right wing nuts can't stand are Peace and Love. As a consequence they stand for War and Hatred. Satan get behind me!!