The popular but controversial priest Father Peter Kennedy of St. Mary's South Brisbane, in Queensland Australia, has just been told to vacate his church by the Archbishop of Brisbane. All the signs suggest that he's headed for excommunication. No, not execution. They don’t do that any more. Today excommunication means being expelled from the church, loosing your pension and being denied Holy Communion in any Catholic church. Does Father Kennedy have a 'house keeper'? No. Does he deny the Holocaust and hate Jews? Nope. Did he abuse little girls? No he didn’t. He did something even worse than that. He allows women to be involved in the Mass, he invited lay people give sermons, he blessed gays couples in church and he (Warning! Some readers may find the following offensive) invited the local Buddhist community to use his church for meditation and put a statue of the Buddha on the altar. One report says this statue was later taken out of the church by an angry parishioner and smashed. Another report says it was moved to the side of the altar. (Readers should be aware that statues of Jesus, Mary and saints are made from a very different type of plaster from that used for Buddha statues). Recently Father Kennedy pointed out that in 1945 50% of Australian Catholics attended church every Sunday and that today only 13% do. He added 'If the church doesn't come to terms with the fact that it has to operate within a liberal democracy, while it continues to act like a monarchy where all power is invested in the leadership of the Pope, then there's no hope, we'll be down to 3%'. Asked what Jesus would make of the controversy, Father Kennedy replied, 'Well, Jesus always stood with the poor, the broken and the oppressed. Jesus was not a Christian. He was a Jew. And he certainly wasn’t a Catholic. He didn’t start any church'. Father Kennedy is only the latest victim of a resurgent conservative trend within the church which started to flex its muscle after the new pope was installed. Father Kennedy's congregation of 800 which he has served for nearly 30 years is amongst the biggest in Queensland and the fear is that when he goes they will go with him.
I hope they take the Buddha statue when they leave.