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Pell directs lay group off church property

Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has instructed the Sisters of St Joseph not to allow the group Australian Reforming Catholics to hold their annual conference at the sisters' MacKillop Place in North Sydney.

According to a report in today's Online Catholics, Cardinal Pell has also instructed two priests of the Archdiocese - Fr Peter Maher and Fr Gerald Gleeson - not to speak at the event. Fr Maher is a university chaplain and Fr Gleeson is a moral theologian who lectures at the Catholic Institute of Sydney.

The Archdiocese issued the following statement: "Cardinal Pell said that he had received no official notice about a proposed meeting of Australian Reforming Catholics. However such a meeting does not have his approval and should not meet on Church land. The Liberal Party does not hold its conference at Labor Party branch office."

Josephite Congregational leader Sr Katrina Brill said the Sisters "respect the authority of the Cardinal and have therefore withdrawn their venue for use by Australian Reforming Catholics".

But she added that the Sisters believer "it is most important for Catholics to have the freedom, and the right, to debate and discuss current issues in the spirit of Vatican II".

Australian Reforming Catholics is affiliated with the international We Are Church organisation, which is regarded by a significant number of bishops as dissenting from the teaching of the Magisterium.

The Australian group states on its website that "reactionary forces within the traditional male structures of the Church have inhibited true reform".

But Australian Reforming Catholics President Barbara Campbell denied the organisation is a "dissenting group".

"We are a group dedicated to discussion, not to any particular position. Our only 'position' is a conviction that the sensus fidelium be respected."

The term 'sensus fidelium' is alluded to in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which says, "The whole body of the faithful... cannot be mistaken in belief."

Pell bans Lay group from Catholic land (Online Catholics 15/9/04)

Australian Reforming Catholics
International Movement We Are Church
Archdiocese of Sydney

15 Sep 2004