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Catholic World News

Rebel Australian parishioners risk excommunication, archbishop warns

November 03, 2008

In August Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane, Australia warned the leaders of St. Mary's parish that they risked separating themselves from the Catholic Church by their unorthodox teaching and liturgical practices. Now in the second stern warning the archbishop has said that he will "begin a formal process to address the situation" if the parish does not respond to his concerns by December 1. The "formal process" could lead to excommunication.

In August, responding to the first warning, parish leaders promised that they would answer the points brought up in the archbishop's message-- which included having lay people deliver homilies and join priests on the altar for the Eucharistic prayer, using an invalid form of Baptism, and welcoming same-sex couples. But since that time the parish has continued to use the invalid baptismal formula and has sold booklets proclaiming that Jesus is not God: a direct contradiction of fundamental Christian doctrine. Archbishop Bathersby suggested that the record shows the parish is not making any effort to conform to Church doctrine and discipline, and that "games are still being played, as they were in the past."

The defiant pastor, Father Peter Kennedy, said that the St. Mary's would not change its practices. "Bullies never have enough of bullying, and the Vatican is a bully," he charged. The parish has set up a blog site, on which parishioners have joined in encouraging defiance of the archbishop's order.


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