I am an Australian priest of the Archdiocese of Agana in Guam, Micronesia. I had already read in the Australian press about what Peter Maher described as the "cultural shenanigans at Redfern with the arrival of the Neocatechumenal Way priests" and so, while I was in Sydney last year, attended Mass at St. Vincent’s one Sunday morning.
My recollections were not, however, about any cultural insensitivity on the part of the priest and the deacon who assisted at the liturgy, but more because it was one of the few parishes I encountered where everyone seemed to participate. It was also obvious that there were some who had a personal axe to grind, but these people did not seem to be Aboriginals (very few of whom were in attendance).
The article by Peter Maher in the Autumn issue of The Swag made two accusations against the priests at Redfern:
- "They have little time for the inverted sense of mission that Redfern parishioners have lived and breathed for thirty years." And
- "They find it hard to appreciate inverse symbolic action as resistance and the indigenous people’s rejection of their need to convert them to repentance for their drunkenness and rebel rousing."
Without giving concrete examples of just what these accusations imply, or allowing the Parish Priest an opportunity to reply, I consider the article to be one more example of "accusation by labeling, no further proof required." I also wonder whether the majority of parish priests anywhere in the world are applying or even understand such standards.
It was not mentioned if Peter Maher visited the parish, whether he spoke to a goodly number of parishioners, aboriginal or otherwise, or to the priest and deacon who have taken up "The challenge of Redfern". In the name of all that is fair, I hope and pray that he did!
Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary
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