Sometimes it pays to look back, to see just how bad things have been  - and to realise how much they have improved.



On 26th November, 2001 I received from the Administrator of the Cathedral Father Peter Dillon the following letter of confirmation :
""Dear Tony,
As I stated in our conversation on Monday morning 26 th November,I believe it is no longer appropriate for you to continue as a lector and minister of Holy Communion at St.Stephen's Cathedral, effective 27th November, 2001.
Yours sincerely,
Fr, P.Dillon
St. Stephen's Cathedral
cc Archbishop J.A.Bathersby

ARCHBISHOP BATHERSBY  - Not, not, not responsible.

I allowed several days to pass before responding:

Reverend & Dear Father,

I have received your letter dated 26th November 2001 confirming in indirect language your decision to ban me from the roles of reader ( not "lector") and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist ( not "Minister of Holy Communion") after eight years of faithful service at the weekday 8.00 a.m. Mass and Sunday 10.00 a.m. Mass . You did not confirm your reasons.

For the record, your reasons given to me on Monday 26 in an interview in your office were:

i) that I had sent a copy of my letter to His Grace, requesting that he act to end the abuse of liturgical texts in his Cathedral, to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome;

ii) that I had in an article in The Courier Mail "criticised"the Archbishop;

iii)you said that I did "not seem to be in sympathy with what we are trying to do here";

iv)you made a confused reference to an article I wrote in The Courier Mail on Archbishop Rush, but did not seem to be able to reach any precision - perhaps you mistook it for one written by Father Bill O'Shea in The Australian .

You well know that in seeking to avoid abuse of liturgical texts in the Cathedral I had in late 1999 spoken to Sister Kari Hatherall, then to you. Finally as you know, you relayed to me His Grace's decision "that he would not allow the use of the NRSV translations because too many people had been making trouble for him in Rome". Is it any wonder then, that after two years of increasing abuse of liturgical texts despite that decision of His Grace, I wrote to him again? And noting the reasoning that His Grace used, is it any wonder that I sent a copy of the letter "to Rome"?No reasonable person could argue that I had no right to do so.In fact, given the knowledge I had, it was my duty to do so.

I did not criticise His Grace in The Courier Mail . I did question the decision to appoint a local nun ( whatever her position) to investigate the witchcraft and lesbianism issues tainting several religious orders, and suggested that it might have been more appropriate to have the matter examined by the Congregation for Consecrated Life. I am not an advisor to His Grace, I am not an employee of His Grace, therefore I am not bound in any sense to refrain from public comment on his discretionary decisions. In the role of Reader and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist there is no atom of conflict between the exercise of those roles and the expression of a legitimate difference of opinion with His Grace on procedural decisions in public matters.

As for not "being in sympathy with what we are trying to do here", when I respectfully asked what that was, you responded after reflection that it was "to reach out and be more inclusive"". You then proceeded to exclude me. For my part I confirm my response that all I have ever wanted was to do what the Catholic Church does and see taught what the Catholic Church teaches.

To conclude Father, I believe your action is unwarranted and unjustifiable. It is not as if I were a cleric attacking in writing a  formal document issued with the Holy Father's approval or one who allowed it to be published in a church publication. No, I have only done what was my right and duty. And for that you have done me a grave injustice. Your motives only you know.

Yours sincerely
in Our Lord


cc Archbishop Bathersby


The Courier Mail using its reporter Wayne Smith whose uneven efforts we saw in the Part III, reported on the INSIDE MAIL page on Saturday, 8th December, 2001in a full page account. on an interview with Archbishop Bathersby newly returned from Rome after his encounter with the Anglicans and, it later became evident with the Holy See. Whether the interview was sought by the Paper or by His Grace is not made clear , but considering the situation, it is unlikely that the Paper would have been aware of his return and seems more likely that His Grace sought the interview which was conducted in his office in his residence at "Wynberg". He may have felt he had a point to make.

The major Heading was The HEX Files"and the mocking sub heading was "Bizarre rituals, shadowy figures, spies and special investigator Scully.Wayne Smith reports on the Catholic Church in Queensland."

The introductory paragraphs set the tone

"Take Christ out of Christianity and what you have left is almost enough letters to form the word "insanity", which is precisely what John Bathersby, Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, is fighting on the left and right of his unruly flock.
In His Grace's own words, a lot of " silliness"has crept into the Church since the Second Vatican Council, with well meaning, even divinely inspired priests and religious so zealously pursuing social justice objectives that they have lost contact with what should be the touchstone of their faith, Christ Himself."
(Emphasis added.)

Witchcraft, Lesbianism,support for Pro- Abortion groups : "silliness"! Even "divinely inspired""silliness"- a first indeed!

But wait, there's more : another can of worms has its lid lifted for a peek :

"But other disturbing activities also caught his eye. He already has had a quiet word to those at St. Mary's church in South Brisbane responsible for inviting the congregation to ring the altar during the Consecration of the Blessed Eucharist during the Mass. That in itself is no more than unusual. One imagines that it is precisely how the early church celebrated Mass.

What takes it into the Bathersby realm of "silliness"is that the lay people at St. Mary's are not just silent onlookers but effectively co-celebrants with the Priest , saying the words of Consecration - a sacred act of the Catholic Faith and one that is the preserve of Priests alone.

There are, too, reports of Brisbane Priests advising their congregations to pray for the death of Pope John Paul II, on the grounds that not until this dogmatic traditionalist dies will the Church be able to move forward and re- establish its relevance in the lives of the faithful. Silly stuff, indeed."

"Yeah, that's the big danger. If the Church is not praying at the same time as its engaging with the world, things can go haywire"Archbishop Bathersby is quoted as saying.

But now we seem to come to the reason for the interview:

""What Bathersby sees as silliness , they( "many within the Brisbane Church") view as heresy and want it stamped out, hard and ruthlessly. And if the Archbishop, by any measure a compassionate caring man, doesn't have enough steel in his backbone to purge his Archdiocese of these blasphemers, then he himself will have to be stamped out.
 That is precisely the way those on the right are playing it , hard and ruthless, as His Grace well knows.

"Oh, they'd like to have me removed, no doubt about it" Bathersby said.

Archbishop Bathersby  -  "have me removed"
His alleged failures to bring the radical left to heel - indeed, his own tacit support for such revolutionaries - regularly are reported to Rome, a grown-up version of "school yard snitching"he finds particularly distasteful.
"It is not the type of way I would operate"he said,. "It doesn't seem to me to be a very Australian thing to do. If they feel this is the way to promote the reign of God according to their vision, if they can get rid of this (arch)bishop, well O.K. - that's the way it is."

After a long excursion discussing who might be out to get him, Opus Dei, Catholic Advocacy, Latin Mass groups ( scary) ,the National Civic Council, and so on His Grace is quoted again ::
"I just feel the Second Vatican Council gave a much more dynamic vision. Gosh, I believe so deeply in Christianity...I hate to see it when it sets out of kilter. And it can get out of kilter one way or the other
 Christianity can never be a little , narrow view of life. It's an absolutely magnificent broad view of life.........I don't mind if they're emphasising the authority of the Pope, which I follow too, but again, it has to be the whole picture. The Pope would be so far to the left of some of these people that it just wouldn't be funny, you see."

By now the construct  of the article has become clear His Grace portrayed as "a compassionate, caring man"is beset by the evil "hardliners" , witchcraft and lesbianism and support for pro-Abortion groups by nuns is "silliness"and here he is loving the Pope and loved by him....what is wrong with everyone else??? Recently, one of the Archbishop's most outspoken critics, former Archdiocesan manager Tony Dixon , was removed as a reader and a Minister of the Eucharist at St. Stephen' s Cathedral.
Bathersby was unaware that the action was going to be taken but nonetheless he approved of it. "I certainly did not give those orders, but it seemed reasonable"", he said. "The Cathedral is the Archbishop's church. If it was your own household.....

I really want to put this strongly. I didn't do that. But it seems reasonable to me. I wasn't surprised. It wasn't the first time there has been disagreement there."

"The only hint of testiness from the Archbishop during this interview came when it was suggested to him that Scully's investigation should be widened to look at suspect practices across the Archdiocese, not merely confined to the vexatious WOMENSPACE issue.

"Oh, no,no,no"", Bathersby responded No, definitely not. I mean, I'm going around the Parishes all the time. Apart from this odd , inappropriate behaviour ( an apparent reference to WOMENSPACE) its not widespread.".........."My job has to be to be a focus of unity for the Church, I have to try to hold people together and you get people at both extremes.....""

"Compassionate and caring"for witchcraft , lesbianism Pro-Abortion supporting Nuns,but at least uncaring , perhaps even publicly vengeful toward one who seeks to have wrongs righted and duty done? A "focus of unity"........

We behold the man.

Having been so wrongly described and publicly attacked in the Paper, I felt obliged to respond.:

"10th December, 2001

Attention Mr. Terry Quinn
Managing Editor

Dear Sir,

In Wayne Smith's article The Hex Files ( CM 8.12.01) I am wrongly described as "one of the archbishop's most outspoken critics."

I have twice written for The Courier Mail and on neither occasion have I criticised His Grace. Nor have I done so in any other publication. The description is false. I did question the appropriateness of having a local nun investigate local nuns.

For his part, His Grace has in the view of a very large number of people , attacked me in an unprecedented manner in his letter to The Courier Mail  and condoned an unwarranted and unseemly administrative attack on me in the abovementioned article. His Grace's Advent Pastoral Letter delivered in the Cathedral called for "Peace, Justice and Freedom". I pray for it. I am no "spy"but I won't ignore outrageous actions when they confront me in the normal course of worship.

I am not an advisor to His Grace, I am not an employee of His Grace, therefore I am not bound in any sense to refrain from public comment on his discretionary decisions. In the role of reader and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist there is no atom of conflict between the exercise of those roles and the expression of a legitimate difference of opinion with His Grace on procedural decisions in public matters. Where is my "freedom", to express an opinion? Where is the "justice"in my banning? Some it seems , favour freedom of speech only as long as they are doing the speaking.

All I have ever sought is  to do what the Catholic Church does and to have taught what the Catholic Church teaches - no abuse of the Liturgy and no bowdlerized Sacred Scripture.

There is no need for imagining hidden enemies. The interview was quite revealing.

Yours sincerely


The letter was sent by Email and Fax.

The Paper published in its "Snippets"Section the following:

"In Wayne Smith's article "The HEX Files"( INSIDE MAIL Dec. 8) I am wrongly described as "one of the archbishop's most outspoken critics. TONY DIXON)

Having allowed me to be publicly attacked in its pages, the Paper cynically had denied me any chance of effective rebuttal . An interesting glance at "" the freedom of the Press".Several of those who subsequently wrote to the Paper and to His Grace provided me with copies of what they had written, which evidenced how clearly they had seen the truth of the situation.


I received  a copy of a summary of the proceedings at a meeting of Priests "" In support of Archbishop Bathersby"which had been called a week before following contact from Rome by the Archbishop to a Priest here.

36 of the Archdiocese's approx. 250 Priests attended and they are named in the document - they included Father Peter Dillon, Father Bill O'Shea a past Rector of the Banyo Seminary and the then current Rector  and the Moderator of the Archdiocese appointed by His Grace and on priest very long retired and sadly demented, and a number of Priests I know were there simply to see what went on.

at Priests'Assembly 2002

The Chairman noted that the Council of Priests had already passed a motion in support of the Archbishop sending a copy to the Nuncio. The Chairmen hoped the Priests would support this "He then gave the Archbishop the opportunity to speak in reply - and to tell us what terrible things happened to him in Rome".

"The Archbishop immediately declared that he was amazed at this show of support. He was deeplymoved by and appreciative of this gesture. By word and gesture, and repetition, he could not have been more emphatic in driving this message home, given his customarily understated speaking style."

"In Rome by the way, there had been no Court - Martial , no trial, he had not been put in any dungeon. "

He recounted two hours spent with Cardinal Kasper on ecumenism, then he was received by the Pope "who gave him his Blessing"He the visited the Archbishop of Canterbury and "did a retreat there".He then said "I ENJOYED Rome". There followed an extensive talk on his appreciation of Vatican II."There were those who did not like him - and he really could not understand why. He then corrected himself and said no, he did understand why they did not like him"

The Meeting concluded without any significant further comment.


There is an evident falsity about the account. If everything in Rome was so jolly and congenial, why was the meeting summoned and why was there a Council of Priests Motion of support sent to the Nuncio? All of  this and the early obvious request to The Courier Mail for an interview suggests the Archbishop seriously" had the wind up."

He had come to this Meeting from Adelaide where the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is Archbishop of Adelaide.  Seeking support?

But for Australia , like the rest of the Western World Christmas was approaching, the media was tired of Church abuses for the moment and looked for stories better keyed to the big advertising season as they see it.

 A breather for the Archbishop.


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