This is hardly surprising, as many previous communications have met the same fate, or at best elicited a perfunctory response that made no attempt to address the issues raised. The community’s attempts at dialogue with the hierarchy have failed miserably, least of all through want of trying.
Rather than explore these serious issues, Pell has chosen to demonise the community – there are numerous cases (press reports and letters) documented on this website. The most recent is a letter signed “George Card. Pell” (see Redfern, by George), that was passed on to the Church Mouse by its concerned recipient. A future article will deal with the misconceptions and misrepresentations of the facts contained in this vexatious letter.
For the moment, the Mous. feels that the Card. needs to be taken to task over his reference to the “small rump” of opposition in the parish of Redfern.
The community’s letter was signed by a “small rump” of about 120 parishioners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, who prefer to be at the arse end of the church if the current hierarchy is representative of its head.
The text of the letter follows:
May 21, 2006
Cardinal George Pell
133 Liverpool Street
Sydney NSW 2000
We, the community of St Vincent’s Redfern, write to you now in urgent need.
It is about three years since you appointed Father Gerry Prindiville and the Neocatechumenal Way to St Vincent’s Redfern. As you no doubt know, the experience has been a very unhappy one for all concerned. It is clear to us that the priests, particularly Father Prindiville, are suffering under the strain. We are also suffering, a fact which is clear to the many Priests of your Archdiocese and Religious Sisters who remain a presence and support in our faith lives.
The chasm between the Priests of the Neocatechumenal Way and ourselves, and the Aboriginal people who count St Vincent’s as a sacred place, is large and growing larger. We, all of us, are suffering a terrible burden.
There are numerous examples of what we consider, at best, to be inappropriate behaviour. No doubt Father Prindiville has strong criticisms to make of us. These outcomes are somewhat understandable and inevitable when two different, incompatible groups are brought together in tension.
It seems that the Neocatechumenal Way cannot live their faith in a way which embraces us and that we cannot live our faith in a way in which embraces them. They would seem to be unable and unwilling to try to understand the faith of the late Father Ted Kennedy who as recently as last Sunday, on the occasion of the anniversary of his death, was described by Bishop Cremin as a priest who loved the Church notwithstanding his many criticisms of it.
When Father Ted Kennedy resigned you said, in the presence of Ted, Danny Gilbert and the late and much loved Sister Maureen Flood, that you would continue his legacy at Redfern. After several years and two failed appointments, that has not happened. We are a Catholic community whose faith has been nourished and developed by the practice and faith of Father Ted Kennedy. We wish to continue to develop that faith in the knowledge that we are supported not only by the Bishops and Priests who regularly offer us support, but by you as well.
We would like to enter into dialogue with you about this matter. We are extremely grateful for the kindness of Father John Usher in his discussions with us over the past year. We urgently look to you, our Bishop, for help.