It is time to re-issue the call to come back to St Vincent’s.
Over the last few years, we at St Vincent’s have been challenged to reconsider our faith in unexpected ways ever since a gracious Cardinal recommended to an ailing Ted Kennedy that it might be time for him to retire, with an assurance that the fruits of three decades of priestly labour would be respected.
Redfern today is the site of two dramatically differing theologies at work under one roof. On the one hand we have the St Vincent’s community continuing to live out the Gospels as they were laid bare by Ted; on the other hand we have the Neocatechumenate Way, with its private, joyless view of a sinful world.
The community’s endeavours to find common ground have failed. Invitations to dialogue with the Neocatechumenate priests and the hierarchy have achieved results ranging from barely satisfactory to outright rejection. The lack of open communication from the Neocats and the increasingly evasive nature of their responses to the community has left many wondering about the possibility of any positive outcomes at all.
The pastoral debacle at St Vincent’s is a reflection of a non-productive tension which is being set up in an increasing number of places around the world by growing neoconservative forces within the establishment Church.
Whilst anti-intellectual, even theologically retrograde, neoconservative movements have established a real presence in an increasing number of dioceses, they are, in many cases content to take a “sleeper” role. At Redfern and Kelmscott in Western Australia, these groups have displayed quite predatory behaviour. Furthermore, in each case the group was imposed by a local hierarchy determined to maintain a pastorally conflicting presence against the wishes of the parish community.
One can only wonder at the pastoral wisdom of these appointments and the Machiavellian logic behind them.
But there is new life too. There are buds of green on the landscape and people, both as individuals and as a community, are getting stronger. And this is the point of my letter.
There are many hundreds of you, who have been touched by this sacred place. You are spread far and wide. I extend to you all a heartfelt invitation to start coming back from time to time, as you once did; not in search of the past, but to help, simply by your presence, in keeping alive the vision of having a place of worship where one can respectfully join the Aboriginal Christ at the banquet table Jim Considine – “Light Years”.
Come, join us for our Christmas Celebratory Mass at 6:00pm on Monday, 24 December 2007.
With apologies to Peter Griffin