A meeting of St Mary's parishioners yesterday endorsed a letter to Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby that rejected a series of church demands.
The St Mary's parish and its priests, Peter Kennedy and Terry Fitzpatrick, may be excommunicated for their stand. Under pressure from the Vatican, Archbishop Bathersby had given the church until today to fall in line with traditionalist standards.
In a letter to be hand-delivered to the archbishop today, the St Mary's community rejects the Vatican's claim that it is not in communion with the Catholic Church.
The row is being watched closely by church leaders as a test case for the traditionalist sacraments endorsed by Sydney Cardinal George Pell.
Church liberals believe the Vatican is under pressure to close St Mary's by members of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei grouping, which is close to Cardinal Pell and Rome's influential bishop, Javier Echevarria.
St Mary's is involved in numerous charities, gives communion to gays and allows women to give the homily. Its services routinely depart from orthodox liturgies.
Archbishop Bathersby wrote to Father Kennedy in August, demanding an end to "practices that separate" St Mary's, which has one of Queensland's biggest Catholic congregations, from communion with the church.
The archbishop complained about a Buddhist statue in the church, baptismal practices, and how marriages and prayers were conducted. His letter said St Mary's "seems to be an authority to itself".
In reply, the community said it had adopted the recent statement by Pope Benedict to the bishops of France, which declared that nobody should be rejected by the Catholic Church. The letter said St Mary's was in communion with the church and warned the church it should not forget its history: it had excommunicated Galileo, barred Mary Mackillop and "stood idly by while children were abused".
Yesterday, Brisbane's Gay and Lesbian Choir sang at the church and the Aboriginal flag was hoisted as Father Kennedy signed a "sacred treaty" with indigenous leader Denis Walker, the son of Aboriginal poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal.
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