ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE - THE BATHERSBY YEARS 2004 SOW THE WIND, REAP THE WHIRLWIND
|THREE LIKE MINDS - BISHOP "Call me Brian"HEENAN of Rockhampton|
BISHOP Michael "Eucharist is a Symbol"PUTNEY of TOWNSVILLE
and ARCHBISHOP JOHN A. BATHERSBY of BRISBANE. The Photo defies charitable Captioning, so I shall abstain.
Well everyone in the Archdiocese knew that St.Mary's Church South Brisbane was a serious problem, and had been for many years, even when His Grace was still Spiritual Director of Banyo's Pius XII Regional Seminary during the Seminary's most notorious years.St.Mary's was a hotbed of dissent, liturgical abuse and scandalous goings on
.But it was a prickly problem : for one thing, several of its regular "parishoners"were senior executives in the Brisbane Catholic Education Office, for another, the dissident "parishoners"were intensely - politically aware and Media savvy. In attempts at discussion, they talked and acted in the aggressive, self righteous manner of some Greenies and Radical Feminists and Marxists, and so they spoke their own jargon. They had their own world view and did not give a fig for Church Discipline, Doctrine, Liturgy or whatever.
They were led by Father Peter Kennedy a strange character who lived his own life in the Gold Coast hinterland unchallenged by Archdiocesan authority. He spoke with complete disregard for the Church, the Magisterium, Canon Law, the Pope, the Archbishop - he alone counted, yet his manner was superficially modest. He was assisted by a younger Priest from Bishop Morris' , Diocese of Toowoomba. This Priest had evidently fathered a child in the course of some psychological problems and the "parishoners "supported the child.It has never been made public by what right he ministered in Brisbane.
When stirred up,the "parishoners"were as aggressive, talkative and argumentative as a mob of wharflabourers
The group had originally used St Mary's Church on an occasional basis with the benign acceptance of the then Parish Priest of Dutton Park ( now retired) , who had the care of the Parish officially. But as time went on they acted as if it was their Church by virtue of "squatters' rights". The newly - arrived Archbishop Bathersby did nothing to disturb them and seems in fact to have regularised the situation by making Father Kennedy the Administrator of the South Brisbane Parish or agreeing to some equivalent arrangement.
Complaints about goings on there were regular, coming from those who casually sought to assist at Mass there when necessity put them in the vicinity.On at least one occasion we know of , after some vigorous complaint - perhaps made to the Holy See, Archbishop Bathersby called Father Kennedy in and "read the Riot Act" to him - with the temporary effect that Father Kennedy was pale-faced still when spoken to by a friend perhaps an hour later. But nothing changed, Kennedy knew his man. Another maxim tells us "Talk is cheap". And Kennedy knew there would be no ACTION from the man who believes "Power is evil".
So 2004 was going along rather nicely until late November. The problem of invalid Baptisms raised its head publicly at South Brisbane . Evidently a person invited to a "Baptism"there, found that Christ's formula for the rite had been abandoned as being inadequate and not politically correct! Accordingly purported "Baptisms"using another formula of words : "in the name of the Creator, the Liberator and the Sustainer"or some such were happening regularly.
It appears His Grace had written to Father Kennedy pointing out that the purported "Baptisms"were invalid.This was reported in the courier Mail of 23rd November, 2004. According to the Paper "the letter is believed to be in response to the Vatican instruction Redemptoris ( Redemptionis intended) Sacramentum which was issued in April and aimed at bringing some priests back into line." The problem with this is that the Instruction relates to the celebration of the Eucharist rather than the Sacraments generally. It was not like Archbishop Bathersby to reach back 7 months and quote a Holy See document on another subject. More likely, His Grace had been prompted directly by the Holy See to correct abuses brought to their attention. Whatever the case, for the first time in 24 years Father Kennedy and his entourage had received a public check.
Of course the response of Father Kennedy was a typical mixture of acceptance and denial. He undertook to use Our Lord's formula of words in future, according to the Paper "under threat of canonical sanctions which could result in his removal from office" But he did not believe the "Baptisms" were invalid or that the "Parishoners" needed to be re-baptised!In another item elsewhere in the Paper "The Archbishop denied he was "merely reacting to pressure from Rome" He said he had been appalled when the formula used at St.Mary's was brought to his notice by a concerned grandparent early this year." It was not made clear what had been done between "early this year"and the "now" of late November. The following day the Paper reported the Chancellor of the Archdiocese Father Jim Spence as assuring those who chose not to be validly baptised that they would go to Heaven when they die. Father Spence is a Canon Lawyer but obviously no sort of Theologian. Nor did he reflect on such a person's inability to qualify for the other Sacraments.He opined that all would be well through a process of mediation! How can one "mediate"the legitimate use of Archiepiscopal authority?
But by Saturday, 27th November, 2004 The Courier Mail had itself flipped back and ran a major article on Page 4 entitled "CATHOLIC CHURCH LOCKED IN BATTLE FOR ITS SOUL".The article was built around an interview with Mrs Kathleen Gordon ( 83 Yrs.) a widow and the daughter of Prime Minister Joe Lyons. Mrs. Gordon is intelligent, thoroughly orthodox and outspoken and widely respected in the Archdiocese. She was quoted as saying that the purported "Baptisms" were "only the tip of the iceberg of the aberrations"( at St. Mary's). She said :"I can't but wonder what has stopped the Archbishop from acting before this. " According to the article "Traditionalists"believe the Archbishop has ignored many blatant breaches of doctrine". For once Father Peter Kennedy was not keen to say too much.
In a surprising twist in the article, the Paper contrasted the very largely young traditional Latin Mass Community at St. Luke's Buranda led by Father Gregory Jordan S.J., with the ageing radical Left congregation at St. Mary's.
In The Courier Mail of Tuesday 30th November, 2004 His Grace was given a full column to write defending the need for compliance with the words Jesus gave us for Baptism. The item was headed "Mystery of True Words Important and was signed "John A. Bathersby"Late in the piece His Grace touched upon the subject of ecclesial Communion in relation to dissident Catholics. Elsewhere in the Paper His Grace's article was reported on under the heading : "Archbishop makes stand".The item re-iterated the essence of His Grace's article, but actually led off with the "Communion" aspect.It then quoted the Archbishop's comments made the day before: "Asked what were the consequences for a Parish no longer considered part of the Archdiocese, he replied : "They would probably have to work that out for themselves. In certain circumstances, a priest might not be able to practice as a Priest. But that is an ultimate step. You would not go in and go Bang,Bang"
Then on Wednesday 1st December, 2004 the Archdiocese appeared to blink in the confrontation. There was talk of wanting to keep the Flock together. But on the same day in The Courier Mail the distinguished Author and Journalist Tess Livingstone wrote a Page 19 PERSPECTIVES article headed "Theological issues non- negotiable in crisis of faith"She said in part:
"Brisbane's Archbishop John Bathersby deserves the backing of every Catholic for defending the sacraments during the crisis of faith at St. Mary's. He must stick to his guns to ensure that the children at the heart of the controversy are baptised."She went on to provide an enlightening catalogue of abuses:
"Over the years St.Mary's has given us the "body of frog"( chocolates for children at communion time), the gay choir, masses with important sections ( including the Offertory) omitted, a creed and a Eucharistic Prayer that owes more to political correctness .......and a congregation mimicking the role of Priests, , extending their hands over the bread and wine and speaking the words of consecration."
She continued :
"A number of influential figures in Catholic Education - including Principals and senior staff of large girl's secondary schools and teachers - attend St. Mary's. Some who run the schools are keen on "Sophia"( the Greek word for wisdom) instead of Holy Spirit, and Our Father, Our Mother "in the Lord's Prayer."
Clearly a lot was rotten in the Brisbane Catholic Education system
The following day, Thursday, 2nd December, 2004 the erratic Father Kennedy, was reported as having said that the Catholic Church was "dysfunctional" and "had trouble relating to democratic society". He said "The traditional Catholic thing is that all wisdom comes down from above , but we Catholics live in a democratic society." He went on "The Church is so dysfunctional. If you are in a dysfunctional relationship after a time you say enough is enough." Father Kennedy said St. Mary's was trying to live out the Archbishop's own vision for his archdiocese":This included "parish liturgy becoming more vibrant, meaningful and inclusive and parishes being welcoming inclusive communities to which people are drawn and have a strong sense of belonging". "You couldn't describe St. Mary's better"Father Kennedy said.
Father Kennedy's cynical abuse of the Archbishop's formulation only served to highlight its naive inadequacy.
In a startling turn of events as the matter developed, His Grace chose to return at this point to one of the favourite themes of all rogue liberals - "spies"( somewhat coloured in more recent times by ex - Ordinary William Morris with the addition of "Temple Police"and "Taliban") .On Saturday 4th December, 2004 The Courier Mail ran a brief Page 3 article of an interview with His Grace which was a "teaser"for a full page P 33 article complimentary in its treatment of St. Mary's. At Page 3, His Grace is quoted as follows : "People from the right wing of the Church will go along and have little notebooks and take notes, and that is also not honouring the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ...In other words its spying on an act of worship."
His Grace found a kindred spirit to corroborate his ideas: "People have no right to be doing this sort of thing. They have no respect for the Mass and they have no respect for the liturgy " said ..........Father Kennedy!!! Well, one might weep at His Grace's distortion of the case, Father Kennedy's contribution could only produce howls of derisive laughter.
The use of the Party Political term "Right Wing"- which in the Labour oriented Bathersby Family ( His Grace's brother had been a Labour Candidate) would definitely be a perjorative one, was an unhappy choice for a Shepherd of the entire flock bound to build unity in Truth.
The article went on "Archbishop Bathersby said it would not be possible to report adversely on the content of a service while respecting what was taking place "I don't like that (spying ) one bit" he said."The I think it is still an act of worship, even though there is a great deal of unorthodoxy about it at St. Mary's.It still is an act of worship and I don't think its right to be a part of that and neglect the fact that worship is taking place."There is then a reference to the P 33 main article
How liberally self - serving is His Grace's little construct . If you see you cannot tell - that would disrespect worship! Why , even a Suffragan celebrating Mass dressed as as a clown would be safe.Or yet another Suffragan Con- celebrating Mass and consecrating the wine in a glass carafe with no Chalice, he would be safe too.The only matters in which I have heard of people systematically taking notes was not at Mass but at illicit Third Rite of Reconciliation occasions. Thank God that the campaign - organised by a New South Welshman succeeded so well. But there was no act of worship involved. But it is TOO MUCH and DENIES the rights of the faithful to authentic celebration of the Sacred Liturgy confirmed in Canon Law, to attempt to apply the gag as His Grace was doing here.
At P 33 INSIDE MAIL we find "PLAYING BY THE BOOK - Brisbane priests preparing for battle over "radical"practices". We don't have to read very far to find by the choice of words and characterisations and the choice of invited comments that the article is a classic "do you a favour"description of the St Marys view of things.The author is Bernadette Condren (her other achievements include "Killers Lurk in Spa Bath"C-M &/4/07 and "Scratching is just another word for nits"C-M Mothers Blog 4/11/10.) She is a journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Commission famed for its LEFT views, anti-Catholicism, Pro-Homosexuality and Abortion ,and Pro -Euthanasia stances. Comments from ABC darling the Ex-Priest Paul Collins are quoted with approval, with a journalistic sigh we are told that " Aboriginal paintings sit comfortably alongside more traditional representations of Christ on the crucifix and Mary with the baby Jesus " at St.Mary's. Ex -priest Collins rules that the Baptisms are valid because only intentions are important.Perhaps the pages of the Sacramental Theology texts he should have studied had many uncut pages, including the prior ones concerning Matter and Form ?
Simply , a child cannot be baptised with Coca Cola - lack of Matter : Water
a child cannot be baptised by saying:"Ta-Da!-Lack of Form : The Words Christ gave us.
And this IS so NO MATTER WHAT THE INTENTION OF THE PRIEST .
But wait!! That is only what the Church has taught for all these hundreds of years ...after all Father Peter Kennedy is quoted in the article thus :"..there are some people in the Catholic Church.....who cannot tolerate anybody who is different from them. Their faith is black and white and they really have little theological sophistication.They don't understand the nature of the sacraments, and they don't understand that intention is the key thing." To quote Jeff Kennet former Victorian Premier, someone "has been hit too many times with the silly stick.
There follows a touching tribute to MICAH a "non-profit"organisation doing "charitable"works out of the Parish since 1994. It is stated as helping young mothers, young parents, victims of abuse in the Church and institutions, homelessness and disability."All of these are activities covered already by the Archdiocese and by St Vincent de Paul Society but these do not get a mention. The article leaves one with the impression that without Micah the people would be left without help. FALSE.
The finishing flourish , if you had not already noticed this as a "puff piece" is to point to BIG,BAD ROME where the "updated Inquisition" might possibly remove Father Kennedy, close St. Mary's and MICAH too!!
That same weekend, the Archbishop's Paper, The Catholic Leader Published a well-placed ( P3 Top RH Corner) an article by the Archbishop on the subject of Truth and Communion with the Church.It is a rather straight forward expansion of what His Grace had written to the Mass Media.
The Leader ran beside His Grace's piece an article headed BAPTISM ROW RAISE MORE QUESTIONS.
The article quoted the Archdiocesan Chancellor Father Spence (see above)to little effect. Then it quoted Father David Pascoe of the then St.Paul's Theological College who demolished the idea that the words used at St. Mary's came from the Doctrine of the Trinity with sharp analysis and then proceeded to show that they displayed no understanding of the faith of the Church , or the role of the Priest in Baptism . Thirdly, in a very Brisbane flourish he pointed out that they provided great difficulties in ecumenical recognition of Baptism.Even Father Tom "Two Tables"Elich the Archdiocesan Il Supremo of matters liturgical said "We cannot jeopardise these deep spiritual realities because of a superficial misunderstanding of Trinitarian language."
And with that the issues fell away from the media - displaced by the onset of pre Christmas advertising , and Brisbane and Queensland, like the rest of Australia, prepared for its long holiday season, Oh! and the celebration of Christ's Birth of course!!