David Rutledge: Finally, on The Religion Report this week, we mark the passing of one of the best-loved and most courageous figures in the Australian Catholic church.
Ted Kennedy: I want to make the confession that within the Catholic community in Australia, there has been a deep, dark hole for a long time now, which amounts to a lack of genuine spirituality. Religion can become the possession of an elitist group whose power reinforces the power of all the other institutional forces in society. It’s language then becomes spiritually hollow, incapable of criticising or challenging any of those forces. In so becoming, religion moves inevitably away from where people, especially the poor, live and move and have their being. I want to confess that the Australian Catholic church has built up a momentum which is heading away from the poor and to the extent that it has done so, it has become unfaithful to the Gospel.
David Rutledge: The voice of Father Ted Kennedy, who died yesterday morning at the age of 74, after a long illness.
For 30 years, Ted Kennedy was parish priest at the St Vincent de Paul Catholic church in Redfern, and during that time he carried out a ministry to Redfern’s Aboriginal community that would have to have been one of the most uncompromising and radical outworkings of the Gospel ever seen in Australia.
Father Ted’s prophetic commitment to the poor and marginalised often put him at odds with the Catholic hierarchy. In 2000, he published a book entitled ‘Who is Worthy’, which is a searing attack on conservatism and clericalism in the church. He was described by Aboriginal leader Pat Dodson yesterday as ‘great saint material’.
Well Father Ted Kennedy’s funeral will take place in Redfern next week, and we’ll be covering that on Wednesday’s Religion Report, so don’t forget to join us then.