Save Peter, save St Mary’s

It seems more than a little ironic to me that on the official day of mourning for Victorian bushfire victims, in which churches are requested to toll their bells for two minutes, that the church of St Mary’s will be mourning another loss entirely–that of their beloved leader.

Getting involved in public discussion of religious debate is not something I set out to do every day but the sacking of Fr Peter Kennedy has me riled. Also, it’s been a while since my last post, due to a broken laptop and a sprained wrist, so I’m ready to say a few words.

For those out of the loop, Father Peter Kennedy, parish priest of St Mary’s church in South Brisbane, has been sacked by Archbiship Battersby for falling out of communion with the Catholic Church. The 1000+ regular attendees of Peter’s services are, understandably, outraged and saddened.

Personally, I am saddened. I was baptised Catholic, attended Catholic schools, was a teacher in Catholic schools and have attended mass at St Mary’s. While I now follow my own version of spirituality that has nothing to do with churches, I credit much of my development to the foundational teachings of the Catholic church. And, amazingly, the more I grow in spirituality the more I truly understand that it’s not very different at all. It’s all just different words and levels of meaning to describe the same stuff. On the rare occasion when I think I would like to go to church, the ONLY place I consider is St Mary’s.

Peter Kennedy has devoted his whole life to serving people, to working at grass roots levels and ministering the very way that Jesus taught to minister… without the pomp and ceremony and rigidness that alienates the very people that need it the most. Yes, Peter blesses gay couples. Yes, Peter says that babies are not born with ‘original sin’. Yes, he encourages women to minister. Yes, he walks in protests and actively stands up against government decisions that he thinks is wrong (e.g. detention centres). Yes, he may be out of step with Catholicism.

But isn’t that the point? How many churches in Brisbane can boast the number of participants that St Mary’s does? To say that change is wrong is to sign the death of the church. The church has and always will change. Vatican II in the sixties saw the most radical changes of all. And it was needed. Without change it would have died.

To stagnate is to die. The people have spoken and yet their leaders are willfully ignoring them. Silly, silly men.

I’ve no doubt Peter will go on, either within St Mary’s (if he and his people can win the fight) or somewhere else. Because he is desperately needed. In an age that is crying out for religious tolerance and inclusion, this is a shameful discrimination by the Catholic church, one that has dreadfully damaged its reputation.

Shame Battersby, shame.

To everyone else, I say go to church at St Mary’s and show your support! You’ll love it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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2 comments on “Save Peter, save St Mary’s

  1. erica says:

    Hear hear Joanne in your comments about Peter Kennedy.

    He has lived part time in my neighbourhood here at his property at Natural Bridge close to the Qld NSW border behind the Gold Coast.

    I have a very close friend who knows Peter well from within our community and while I have never had the pleasure of meeting him myself I know what a good man he is, from all the things she has talked about over the years and that he does a great job breaking down barriers and helping people.

    How it is possible to sack a priest that brings close to 1000 people to worship in his parish each and every Sunday is beyond me. He respects all faiths and all types of people as one, which after all is what we are in reality.

    The problem as I see it, coming from way the Catholic Church is thinking is the nasty “S” word………….separation.

    It seems that separation is the normal practise utilised in the majority of world religions to make them feel better or more blessed than those who don’t follow their actual branch of beliefs.

    Certainly within Christianity alone there must be hundreds if not thousands of churches, groups etc who all believe they are the only “true” Christians and that they will be the only ones saved because they follow this or that specific interpretation of the Bible in this or that specific way.

    Without earnestly practising separation they may lose the edge they feel they have on everyone else in getting to heaven on Judgement Day! Heaven forbid! ( a small pun…….. forgive me)

    Peter on the other hand preaches “unity”. No separation…….no-one better than anyone else……………all welcomed and loved equally. No lowly sinners ………….no judgement.

    Gee……………..I’m sure I’ve heard someone else teach that message in a similar fashion. Ah yes, thats right, I think they called him The Christ. I think he was talking the “truth”.

    I think Peter Kennedy might have talked to him more than once or twice over the years.

    I agree, Peters’ work won’t stop just because of this action. But maybe he will be given the opportunity to reach even more people without the confines of a parish. Even less boundaries means even less “separation”.

    It may just end up being a good thing in the long run if he is freed from those confines.

    Keep up the good work Peter kennedy and may we meet in Numinbah Valley – Natural Bridge one day!

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