00 6/6/2009 2:21 PM
Worldwide ban for rebel priest
Australian Broadcasting Commission News

June 5, 2009

A dismal story on the eve of the Year of the Priest, but obviously, the Church cannot tolerate any priest defying the practices of the universal Church.

The Catholic Church has suspended controversial Brisbane priest Peter Kennedy from performing church duties anywhere in the world.

Father Kennedy will no longer be allowed to officiate at weddings, preach or hear confessions.

Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby imposed the penalty after Father Kennedy began a new congregation, known as St Mary's in Exile.

In addition, the Church has "revoked the faculties" of Father Terry Fitzpatrick, who also officiates at the new church. Fr Fitzpatrick is formally attached to the Toowoomba diocese, but he can no longer say Mass in Brisbane.

This means St Mary's in Exile is without a priest who can say Mass with the blessing of the Catholic Church.

Fr Kennedy was originally sacked from St Mary's Church at South Brisbane for unorthodox practices, including allowing women to preach and for blessing gay couples.

Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Fr Adrian Farrelly, acknowledged that suspension of a priest is a very serious matter.

"However, Father Kennedy has consistently ignored a series of formal directives, following years of informal requests from the Archbishop to conform to universal Catholic practices," he said in a statement.

"Father Kennedy's beliefs and practices have separated him and those with him from the Church, local and universal, and caused confusion.

"The action of the Archbishop is a strong call to Father Kennedy to return to accepted Catholic teaching and practice."

But Fr Kennedy says he will defy the ruling - describing the ban as ruthless and vindictive.

He says he will continue working.

"I will continue to celebrate liturgies and eucharist," he said.

He also says he is expecting the Church to take further steps against him.

"The excommunication will come, they will pursue this to the bitter end," he said.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/14/2010 7:45 AM]