Response to Mgr Brian Raynor’s visit

I have been associated with the parish going back to its inception in 1972. Ted Kennedy had become a friend and a mentor. I think it is important to understand that he was not just anyone. He had a sense of affirmation that endeared him to people and in particular the indigenous people. He gave them a sense of belonging and a location where they believed they had a right to be. What is happening now is that they feel betrayed in such a way that the lifeline given them has been swept away. They are bewildered. They feel betrayed. They had had a parish priest who had made the effort to understand something of their culture. He in turn has been betrayed by a clergy who have been imposed on the community. Those clergy in turn have made no effort to understand what enculturation is about and what are the genuine needs of a people. Aboriginal values are unable to get a hearing. This runs contrary to the teachings of the Church, especially since Vatican II where there is an incredible emphasis on living with and respecting the culture and the tradition of the people entrusted to them. The aboriginal values had got a fair hearing before the advent of the successors of Ted. Kennedy. Now that has been denied. This can be shown in a legion of ways. Refusing an aboriginal child communion, taking down of icons that respected an aboriginal presence, putting an expensive carpet in a position of prominence and a dais as well and disregarding the work being done by the community to alleviate the plight of the aborigines. These are but a few examples.

You talk about the shortage of the clergy. Why then have two priests working with such a small congregation? Surely they could be used more productively elsewhere with an ideology suitable to the way they view life. The spirit of this community has been here for decades. People have come from near and far to be in attendance. This is a church and a community where they feel at home. They have a deep sense of belonging and for them this is their local church. Why attempt to demolish a sense of community by replacing it with something alien to their faith? There have been several priests who have offered to say the Sunday masses at St. Vincent’s and who share the same Gospel values. Why are they not allowed to celebrate? One has the impression that this has all been decided beforehand. Even the previous appointment was never discussed. The MSCs knew that the priest that they selected was not appropriate. Why was the appointment made?

However the biggest and the most serious problem is what the Neo-Cats offer in terms of a theology and a spirituality. From what has been observed in both words and actions they propagate that the only path to follow is the way of the Neo-Catechumenate. Their sense of exclusiveness and divisiveness run contrary to the basic structure of a Catholic parish. Their fundamental message is nothing less than the spirit of Jansenism with its emphasis on self doubt, the eminent nature of sin, a sense of our own incompetency and emptiness and the negation of our own beliefs. It must be remembered that Jansenism was condemned and in turn recognised as a heresy by Pope Clement XI.

by John Hill
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