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Brisbane Archbishop stops "inclusive" baptism

Archbishop John Bathersby has written to one of his parish priests to request compliance with last April's Vatican instruction Redemptoris Sacramentum that stipulates that liturgical norms must be followed exactly.

The Courer-Mail reports today that doubt has been cast on the validity of hundreds of baptisms at St Mary's South Brisbane because Fr Peter Kennedy and his assistant Fr Terry Fitzpatrick used the words "Creator, Liberator and Sustainer" - instead of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" - in order to make the sacrament "more inclusive, less patriarchal".

St Mary's South Brisbane has a strong social justice focus and has gained attention through the priests' wearing of an East Timorese stole, instead of traditional vestments, and using new forms of liturgy. Fr Kennedy, who has been at St Mary's for 24 years, said yesterday that the church baptises more than 100 children a year.

He has alternated between using the new baptism language and the traditional words for "a number of years" but begged to differ with the Archbishop's suggestion that he had been baptising invalidly. However, he has agreed to return to the traditional words in the face of a threat of canonical sanction which could result in his removal.

He said Archbishop Bathersby had been "very accommodating" of St Mary's during his 10 years as archbishop but was now responding to the Vatican directive.

The Archbishop's letter - written in July - was first reported by Online Catholics last month.

Fr Kennedy told the publication that he understood that "in the current environment [Archbishop Bathersby] has to be seen to be taking a stand".

He said that while the liturgy at St Mary's has been developed over years by the community at South Brisbane, there is no wish to "export" their practices to other communities. But equally, the priests remain committed to them.

Archbishop Bathersby told Online Catholics: "At the present time I am engaged in dialogue with St Mary's that I hope will eventually reach a solution agreeable to all. There are a number of liturgical matters that require a great deal of discussion."

Church rebuked for 'new' baptism (The Courier Mail 23/11/04)
Bathersby censures St Mary's Church (Online Catholics 13/10/04)

Catholic Parish of South Brisbane
Vatican Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum
Brisbane priest calls homeless youth problem a 'scandal' (CathNews 15/11/04)
Damage to Anti-War Banner at St Mary's Church (Media Release 3/3/03)
Brisbane Archbishop reacts to gay choir's use of Catholic Church (CathNews 10/6/03)

23 Nov 2004