Fr Bob Irwin, provincial of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, has asked the parish priest of St Vincent de Paul Church, Redfern, Fr Peter Carroll, to withdraw from the parish.
“I believe Fr Peter has been placed in an intolerable position that is most unreasonable for any parish priest,” he said.
Fr Bob said he had asked the priest to withdraw “after much careful reflection and prayer, and conversations with many people, including the archdiocese”.
“For the next month we will try to facilitate normal Sunday Mass times,” Fr Bob said. “However, it is expected that in the near future the archbishop will appoint a new parish priest.
“I hope and pray that members of the parish will be understanding and that the Spirit of God will be obvious among you all.”
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell, said: “Fr Peter Carroll has always enjoyed my total support and recent events there are entirely regrettable.”
Fr Peter, who had been parish priest for eight months, has been accused by some sections of the parish community of alienating Aboriginals.
He had a hard act to follow, replacing Fr Edward Kennedy, parish priest for more than 30 years, who once described himself as “aiding and abetting” the long term struggle for justice by Aboriginal people.
He would distribute the collection money on Sundays to those waiting outside the church. Fr Peter has been accused of stopping this practice.
Some parishioners also complained after an Aboriginal man who, with Fr Kennedy’s blessing, had been squatting in the unused presbytery for more than 10 years, was evicted because of health and safety concerns.
It has also been claimed that Fr Peter offered parishioner Linda Kemp $1500 to give up her weekly church cleaning job, a position she had held for nine years, and to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Ms Kemp has been quoted in news sources as having said:
“He has a fear of Aboriginal people. He doesn’t give us the time of day.
“He doesn’t talk to us after Mass. He’s straight out the door.”