Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Banned St Mary's Priest Peter Kennedy to Keep Praying

Original article
Margaret Wenham

CATHOLIC Archbishop John Bathersby has banned former St Mary's South Brisbane priest Peter Kennedy from practising anywhere in the world.

The penalty is harsher than any imposed in Brisbane on priests convicted of pedophilia.

Fr Kennedy yesterday received two decrees from Archbishop Bathersby, one of which made good the Catholic Church leader's recent threat to strip the 71-year-old priest of his authority to conduct marriages, preach and hear confessions.

To read the full text of the decrees click here and here

However, in a shock move, Fr Kennedy also was suspended "from all the acts of power of order effective immediately".

Fr Kennedy's assistant, Father Terry Fitzpatrick, also received a decree preventing him from preaching and conducting weddings, although only in the Brisbane Archdiocese.

Fr Kennedy – who this month will have been a Catholic priest for 45 years – said he would still run the St Mary's-in-Exile masses as usual at the Trades and Labour Council building in South Brisbane this weekend.

He described the decrees as "more warning shots" that would ultimately lead to his excommunication.

The Courier-Mail reported last year that convicted pedophile priest Ron McKeirnan was still able to conduct masses privately after being granted special permission by Archbishop Bathersby.

Archbishop Bathersby's spokesman, Brisbane Archdiocese Chancellor Fr Adrian Farrelly, confirmed the effect of Fr Kennedy's sweeping suspension. "He can't do anything, not even in private," he said.

While he was not sure what arrangements had been made between the Archbishop and any "men who have been convicted of crimes", Fr Farrelly confirmed that if any of them had been granted permission to say mass then they were "in a different position to where Peter Kennedy is now".

However, he said convicted criminal priests could never return to a full, active ministry.

Church community member Karyn Walsh said Fr Kennedy's treatment highlighted the "Catholic Church's intent to pursue irregularities in doctrine and liturgical practices, but its minimisation of the criminal behaviour of some priests".

Fr Kennedy was sacked as administrator of St Mary's South Brisbane in February, after allegations he changed words in liturgies and blessed divorced and gay couples. In protest, St Mary's congregation set up a breakaway group based at the TLC building.

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