Thursday, 26 February 2009

Brisbane oh Brisbane....

The saga continues, with Fr Kennedy rejecting Archbishop Bathersby's offer of a mediator, dismissing it as 'more bullying'. Pretty insulting to former High Court judge Ian Callinan....

So what next? Deadly silence so far.

Archbishop Bathersby: was he pushed into action?

In the meantime, it seems the international media are finally picking up the vibe that Archbishop Bathersby might not be entirely enthusiastic in his desire to close down the Kennedy charade. CWN in particular have run a very gentle but probing piece asking the following question:

"When the archbishop engaged a mediator to resolve the dispute, Father Kennedy rejected the idea as another "bullying tactic." The defiant pastor went on to say, "you see bullies never get enough of bullying and Rome bullies the bishops and the bishops bully us."

So now the distant, faceless power of "Rome" has been brought into the discussion. Father Kennedy is hinting broadly that Archbishop Bathersby would not have taken disciplinary action if the archbishop himself hadn't been under pressure from the Vatican....

Is that true? Would Archbishop Bathersby have been willing to tolerate the liturgical and doctrinal abuses, if the Vatican hadn't insisted that he take action? That is a serious charge. The archbishop's public statements have indicated that he is appalled by what he has found happening at St. Mary's parish. Did he make those statements only for show-- only to save himself from the wrath of the Vatican? That is what Kennedy's theory implies."

Let me help my international readers out here by pointing to a helpful editorial on this subject from Australia's liberal 'catholic forum' Catholica (popularly known as acatholica). Catholica I should add, is generally strongly supportive of Fr Kennedy and his campaign. Its forum is full of posts from admitted lapsed catholics declaring him a living saint and such like sentiments...

Catholica's take on the Archbishop

Catholica's editor Brian Coyne, wrote an Open Letter to the two priests involved and the parish community. It starts by congratulating St Mary's on its great work in the past:

"On behalf of the Catholica OnLine Community, I would firstly like to congratulate you on the now long and impressive legacy of good works which you have established at the Parish of St Mary's and which has become a shining beacon [well, a beacon of some kind anyway] certainly at the national level and possibly even at the international level....

He goes on to denounce those nasty catholic agitators who actually want valid sacraments, a church free of pagan idols, and abuse free liturgies (not to mention an orthodox sermon from a priest):

"I know I echo the general feelings of the Catholica community that have been expressed to me in our forums, via emails and telephone calls that the recent events at St Mary's following your being reported to the Vatican by a small canker group within the Catholic Church have caused deep disquiet to many..."

But then calls on them to stop attacking the Archbishop:

"While, in spirit, Catholica members have been supportive of your endeavours at St Mary's I have also picked up a certain disquiet over some of the confrontational tactics adopted in response to Archbishop John Bathersby...."

Not because he has been doing the right thing mind you. But firstly because it distracts from the cause of overthrowing the Church:

"Our concern has been two-fold: firstly we believe focusing your attack on Archbishop Bathersby was misconceived and likely to draw attention away from the real causes of your problems, and the general problems of the increasing lack of relevance the institutional Church has for the vast majority of baptised Catholics in this nation [Most of whom have ceased practicing in response to the wreckovations to the liturgy perpetrated by Fr Kennedy and his ilk]. Secondly we were concerned that the calls of yourself, Fr Kennedy, to establish some new community outside the institutional structure were likely to be counterproductive for you personally, for the community at St Mary's, for the wider Church and, most especially, for all those people of good will seeking to agitate for an institutional Church more responsive to the spiritual and other needs of the vast majority of Catholics in this country, many of whom now feel disenfranchised from the Church built by their forebears.[The old 'I'm a catholic because I say I'm a catholic' line - even if I don't believe or practice what the Church teaches...]"

And here it comes. AB Bathersby is on Fr Kennedy's side really:

"...We do believe that perhaps more might have been achieved if, earlier on, a more cooperative line might have been adopted in negotiations with Archbishop Bathersby and that might have been more mindful of the difficult political position he found himself placed in. At this stage that is now largely "water under the bridge" and the strategic positions that existed at earlier stages for yourselves, or for the Archbishop cannot now be recalled.

It is our belief that over the years Archbishop Bathersby, like ourselves, has been broadly supportive of your endeavours at St Mary's. It has been our assessment that he has turned a "blind eye" to many of the complaints that have been directed to him out of a sense of broader solidarity and support for the objectives of your community and the important outreach it represented to those who have perhaps not been well served by the institution. His "blind eye" has not been motivated principally by laziness or indifference but from a sense that he viewed there was much good being achieved at St Mary's despite some of the liberties that might have been adopted in liturgical styles [and his blind eye, and that of his predecessors is why invalid baptisms continued to be performed for over twenty years.. you have to wonder what proportion of St Mary's large congregation are actually even technically catholics...].

...I believe the members of Catholica will be more supportive of a more moderate line by yourselves including your canonical appeal and the planned rally of support on Sunday particularly if the focus is shifted away from some personal attack on Archbishop Bathersby and instead directed to the authorities in Rome and their constant appeasement of this tiny, totally unrepresentative [but rapidly growing!] canker who have caused so many difficulties for yourselves over the years and who have also been largely responsible for driving so many out of the pews of the wider Church over a period of many, many decades." [Oh yeah. Because Australia has so had a strong history of orthodox 'reform of the reform' style masses. Not. Especially not in Queensland. There is no equivalent of the Oratory or other conservative centres of resistance to spirit of Vatican IIism in this country. No wonder people left.]

I would urge all those who attend [last] Sunday's rally not to turn this into some effort to bloody the nose of Archbishop John Bathersby but that it be simply a peaceful, and non-liturgically or in other ways provocative way of sending a forceful message to the powers-that-be in Rome that it is time they started listening (a) to the more pastoral [!] bishops of Australia and (b) through them to the spiritual and liturgical needs of the vast majority of the faithful in this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

Oh and there's a plea for tolerance of us too (because we know liberals are so good at that), so long as we learn our proper place in life:

I would also urge, strategically, that those in the more progressive and mainstream sectors of the Church need to recognise that institutionally we have a responsibility to be tolerant towards those who understand, or express, their faith in more simplistic [!] or legalistic [!] or liturgically and devotionally conservative ways. They have a right to their beliefs and their ways of worship. The focus of any protest should not be directed at their beliefs or practices other than the single belief they seem to have that they can dictate the entire belief and worship agenda for the whole of Catholicism.

So has Archbishop Bathersby been dragging his heels as CWN hints? Well it sure looks like it from both sides of the fence...If the situation isn't resolved soon (and really anyway), surely he has to go.


Anthony Bidgood said...

Dear Australia Incognita,

Could it not be in the case with Archbishop Bathersby that there was one event that 'broke the camel's back' that made him act? While Archbishop Bathersby seems to be very much in the 'spirit of Vatican II', such ideas are not 'set in stone'. The scenario you outlined makes a great deal of sense but how interested can Rome be with one parish? Father Kennedy's claims seem to me to be of exaggerating his own importance.
It would be useful if Catholics who accept the Magisterium and the Church's teachings write to Archbishop Bathersby to say how much they appreciate his actions even though it was a difficult decision for him to make. The support for Father Kennedy in the secular media, itself part of a wider, and foul, agenda, may have left the Archbishop feeling isolated.

In Christo,
Anthony Bidgood

Terra said...

I agree that something like this probably wouldn't normally be on Rome's radar screen (it is repeated too many times across the world!). And would certainly hope that a diocesan bishop would feel impelled to deal with something like this without needing to be pushed to do so by the Vatican.

But I think the fact that the AB chose to get a definitive reading on the baptism issue from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith rather than just acting himself rather changed the dynamic. Not to mention the fact that the Vatican already had their eye on Queensland courtesy of the bishop of Toowoomba.

What happened was a very public ruling by the Vatican that thousands of baptisms were invalid. Then a pathetically inadequate response by the diocese. And more and more stories of syncretism, heresy and liturgical abuses.

If something decisive had happened in December when the AB first said it would, I think faithful catholics across the country would have been strongly behind him.

As it is, if there was a straw that broke the camel's back, the AB continues to be remarkably slow in attempting to heal the break. Why not just formally excommunicate the lot of them and have the police escort them off the premises?

At least the media coverage is starting to turn, with an editorial in the Oz and a piece in the SMH both taking the Church's side.

Son of Trypho said...

Interesting comments from Coyne - seems that he's going to take the default conservative position for the moment - bunker down, consolidate and wait for this bad period (in his opinion Benedict XVI's reign) to end. In the meantime, keep a low profile and don't provoke fights with the conservatives that you can't win.

Although an unpleasant thing to consider, it seems that the liberals are banking on that they'll outlive Benedict in the medium term. In the short term, they are clearly organising to discredit him.

Very unpleasant all in all.

Terra said...

I think your analysis is pretty right Sof T, but I while there is a fight ahead, and the Pope is old (but looking pretty strong and healthy, may he live many more years!), the liberals are ageing pretty rapidly too!

The reality is that the religious orders who adopted liberal principles are on a course to demographic extinction, but young virant and conservative orders are rapidly growing, and a similar pattern applies to diocese and parishes. Where the bishops and priests are orthodox and value tradition, parish numbers and vocations are growing. Where liberals dominate, the opposite is generally the case.

If nothing else changes, we will see a huge shift in where the church is and isn't, with some huge holes (Queensland springs to mind!). But of course things won't stay the same - the dynamic parts of the church will hopefully go out on mission and re-evangelise some of these lost areas.

The ferocity of the current attacks on the Pope and those who are implementing SP reflect the liberals understanding that the dynamic the Pope has set up, particularly under Summorum Pontificum, will be very very difficult to stop. I would also suggest that giving more weight to the momentum is why the Pope is putting so much effort into reconciling groups like the SSPX, notwithstanding the short term cost of doing so.