The Administrator of St Mary’s Parish, Fr Ken Howell, has taken the difficult decision not to preside at, or attend, Masses at St Mary’s this weekend.
At Fr Howell’s request, he met yesterday with Fr Peter Kennedy.
At that meeting, Fr Kennedy refused to hand over the keys to the Parish buildings, including the church, and told Father Howell that he, Father Kennedy, would officiate at all Masses this weekend, and that the liturgy would take the same form as it usually does at St Mary’s.
Fr Howell also met yesterday with officers from the Queensland Police Service, who recommended that he not attend Masses at St Mary’s this weekend, on the grounds that there may be a risk to those who are present at the Mass.
“I have also been contacted by a number of people, saying they would like to attend the services but are hesitant to do so because they are concerned about their own, and their families’ safety,” Fr Howell said.
“I have been a priest for 25 years, and I will not engage in a situation whereby the celebration of the Mass becomes a place of conflict and division.
“I don’t believe that anyone would attend this weekend’s services with the intention of behaving violently. However, tensions are high, people are upset, and Fr Kennedy has urged as many people as possible to attend the service in a spirit of protest.
“I have very reluctantly taken the difficult decision not to preside at, or attend, any of the Masses at St Mary’s this weekend. I have done so to ensure the process of transition is safe and peaceful for all concerned.
“I remain firmly committed to beginning a process of dialogue and healing between the Archdiocese and the St Mary’s community. I also remain committed to taking up my position as Administrator of the Church and ministering to the Parish.
“I hope and pray that the people of St Mary’s will engage with me in this process,” Fr Howell said.
The Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, The Most Reverend John Bathersby DD said the Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese’s priority was to ensure the proper transition of the Parish to the new Administrator.
“The Church is prepared to take all lawful and peaceful means which may be necessary to ensure the decree which I issued yesterday is carried out. The Church is fully entitled to have this decree obeyed and to have its ownership of the St Mary’s Church respected,” the Archbishop said.
“In this difficult situation, I believe a sensible next step would be to have an experienced, independent and eminent mediator meet with the Archdiocese and Fr Kennedy to attempt to achieve a peaceful and dignified outcome to the current impasse. I would strongly urge Fr Kennedy to participate in this process.”
“I am very conscious of the many people who are praying for the peaceful resolution of this very difficult situation and I continue to ask for the prayers of the priests, deacons, religious and parishioners of the Archdiocese, as well as the prayers of other Christians and all who are involved in this matter.
Released by The Catholic Communications Office
February 21, 2009