Wednesday, August 27, 2008

St Mary's parishioners "love the Vatican II"

Five hundred parishioners, many wearing stickers reading "I love the Vatican II", crammed St Mary's Church in Brisbane last night to respond to a letter from Archbishop John Bathersby while a Sunshine Coast priest has backed the parish.

The crowd sang the anthemic "We are Called" to close the emotion charged meeting, the Brisbane Times reports.

The group had come together to debate a challenge from Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby, who this week called on the popular church, with a parish of more than 700, to toe the Catholic line or close.

It is the second time in four years Archbishop Bathersby has questioned the church’s behaviour.

St Mary's champions social justice issues, embraces homosexual couples and allows women to preach, the online news site says.

Over thirty parishioners addressed the meeting but except for a short address about democracy at the start of the meeting, parish priest Fr Peter Kennedy did not speak, sitting through the meeting beside the altar, listening to the debate.

At the end of the 90 minute meeting, the parish accepted a recommendation to respond in detail to Archbishop Bathersby's questions.

The parish will form four "committees" to research answers to what the parishioners describe as Archbishop’s Bathersby's four main areas of concern.

Several speakers told the meeting that they felt the parish was a Catholic parish and that a response to Archbishop Bathersby's letter should be "respectful and dignified".

But several questioned why Archbishop Bathersby had likened the parish to the Hillsong Church.

"We are a Catholic Church, ministered by two catholic priests, from a community which has many leaders in the Catholic Church," one speaker said.

However others acknowledged that the church had some controversial areas which needed examination.

"We do have a radical point of view in terms of Christian prayer," one said.

"And we have to confront the issues that the Archbishop has raised."

Meanwhile, Caloundra priest, Fr John Dobson has championed the right of besieged South Brisbane parish St Mary’s to remain part of the Catholic Church.

"The information I've got is that this all happened because (the statue) was reported by an extremely conservative, right-wing member of the church...," he said.

"When people take notice of a person of that sort then these kinds of things happen as a reaction."

Father Dobson believed the Church’s role was to provide a spiritual home for Christians, not to judge the lifestyles of its parishioners.

"I think a church that refuses homosexual people as part of the church is not Catholic and not Christian," he said.

"If we're going to be doing what we do in the tradition of Jesus then there’s no basis for refusing anyone.

"The church should be about inclusion not exclusion.

"The Archbishop hopes wisdom prevails in South Brisbane and I do too.

"We need to allow the differences of believers ... the Church needs more pastoring, not policing," Fr Dobson said.
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(Source: CathNews (CN)

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