A couple of letters

Here are a couple of letters sent to Cardinal George Pell 5 or 6 weeks ago.

10 March 2010

The Archbishop of Sydney
Cardinal George Pell
Polding Centre
133 Liverpool St
Sydney 2000

Cardinal Pell,

At Mass last Sunday, only the host – no consecrated wine – was distributed at Communion. The Eucharistic minister approached the altar and was dismissed. This sort of thing happens regularly at St Vincent’s Redfern, but I just can’t get used to it.

I spoke to the celebrant, Fr Miguel Zavarese, after Mass. In six long years he is the first parish appointee who will engage in conversation with me.

He said that he was following the instructions of his superior, Fr Clesio Mendes, to counter the divisiveness surrounding the availability of the blood of Christ. According to Fr Miguel, Mendes said that when Aboriginal Eucharistic minister Ralph T gives out Communion, communicants do not come to him (i.e., Mendes).

The simple truth is that many of the community at Redfern find it anathema to receive the Eucharist from Mendes. Despite having thought hard about St Augustine’s words on the relevance of the merits of the consecrator, I sadly choose to go without if that is the only option.

Why? Because Mendes’ ongoing behaviour has destroyed any respect which he might have enjoyed as a person, let alone as a priest. It is as though he exploits the power of his position, treating the community with contempt and derision, declaring that we are not Catholic, and now perverting the Eucharist by using it as a weapon in some kind of misguided ideological battle.

I can’t imagine Jesus accepting behaviour like that.

Furthermore I suspect that you and I both appreciate that this situation is intolerable. What can we do to resolve this impasse?

L….
(Parishioner and community member for more than 30 years)

15 March 2010

The Archbishop of Sydney
Cardinal George Pell
Polding Centre
133 Liverpool St
Sydney 2000

Cardinal Pell,

Postscript

I feel obliged to inform you of Mendes’ response to my conversation with Fr Miguel – assuming that he had not yet been advised of my letter of 10 March.

Yesterday he launched a vitriolic attack from the pulpit condemning the community and pretty much all that we stand for, making explicit reference to those who do not take Communion from him. A well-known and highly respected, long standing member of the community was so outraged by this tirade that he spoke with Mendes at length after Mass – in the sacristy and again outside the church – only to be told that he was not a Catholic.

One of the Aboriginals in the congregation said to me “He’s no pastor, he’s an a***hole”. Others within hearing nodded their heads in agreement.

As for the Eucharist – Mendes allowed a severely limited quantity of consecrated wine to be distributed by one of his acolytes. The bulk of it was consumed by a member of the Neocatechumenal Way.

I repeat, what can we do to resolve this impasse?

L….

Although no reply has been received to either of the letters, subtle changes in Mendes’ behaviour could be read as an indication that he was informed of their contents.

Nevertheless Ralph is still waiting to be invited to distribute Communion at Sunday Mass.

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