Sydney priest tours rainbow church

St Mary’s Church in South Brisbane is well known for pushing the boundaries of convention in theology and politics. On Tuesday, 22 August, the church filled with the curious, the converted and the faithful to celebrate the Brisbane launch of Ted Kennedy’s book, Who is Worthy?

Ted sat among many Murri friends. The Watson family, singer Dermot Dorgan and the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir combined for an evening of storytelling song and celebration.

Tony Robertson, a self-styled holy irritant and host for the launch invited Ted to cut a cake baked for the occasion. The rousing chorus of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow was a community tribute to a man many admire as an advocate for the poor and a voice that challenges the structure of the church.

Speaking as a gay Catholic, Robertson says that Kennedy’s book will stand as a classic of pastoral theology in Australia because it speaks out for two marginalised groups, gay-and-lesbian people and the Aboriginal community. The theology of the book is directed at the public positions of Archbishop George Pell of Melbourne: it focuses on the role of conscience in the future of the Church.

This completes a tour of the three east-coast capital cities by the 68 year-old parish priest of Redfern. His book was launched with great enthusiasm at his parish church on 16 April where speakers included Judge Bob Bellear and Sister Veronica Brady, and Peter Kearney was among the singers.

On 17 July, Kennedy’s Melbourne launch was held at Saints Peter and Paul’s Church in South Melbourne where Father Bob Maguire is parish priest. Lois Peeler welcomed people on behalf of the Bunurong and Woiworung people. Naomi Meyer, vice-president of a peak national Aboriginal medical body, praised his lifetime’s work in solidarity with Aboriginal people while Dave McKenna, lawyer and member of the Rainbow Sash group, celebrated Kennedy’s contribution to turning around an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Jan Coleman thanked him on behalf of parents of gay and lesbian children. In formally launching the book in Victoria, Professor Tony Coady combined learned comment and joking stories of his long friendship with Kennedy. Jadyn Lillyst sang They Took the Children Away and a series of powerful numbers. Brendan O’Dwyer represented the publishers, Pluto Press. Ted Kennedy’s address was printed in Tain no. 8. Val Noone was master of ceremonies. Bob Maguire remarked that as he walked over to the church for the launch he noticed a rainbow over the building. Some 350 people attended the function which marks a new stage in developing alternative forums in the Melbourne Catholic Church.

TAIN October 2000
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