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Paper highlights destruction of parish that was called 'beacon of hope'

A feature in today's Sydney Morning Herald documents simmering tensions between inner-city Redfern parish's "deeply committed" parish priests, and its "diverse congregation with a reputation for social justice".

The paper says the new leaders of the parish of St Vincent de Paul are accused of "unchristian behaviour", including insulting an elderly nun and alienating the Aboriginal community with which the church has forged strong links.

The Sydney Archdiocese told writer Linda Morris that it stands by the parish priests whom it says are "deeply committed to the mission", have been unfairly accused and have the support of the Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell.

"They always endeavour to treat every member of the community with respect and courtesy, and do so in circumstances that are often quite difficult," a spokesperson said. "The allegations made by a newcomer to the parish contain many errors of fact, including the allegation that a man was placed in a headlock when receiving communion, which is simply untrue."

In an open letter published in today's Online Catholics, parishioner John Hill warns of the "disintegration or even worse, the destruction of a parish" that for more than 30 years "has been a beacon of hope for social justice, the authentic Gospel teachings, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and the rights of indigenous Australians".

Tensions surfaced after Fr Ted Kennedy, the long-time parish priest who helped make the church a focal point for Redfern's Aboriginal community, stepped down to be replaced with followers of the Neocatechumenal Way.

City's poor ask for whom Pell tolls (Sydney Morning Herald 10/11/04)

Church Mouse
Priest denies Redfern church is "for the Aboriginals" (CathNews 29/7/04)
St Vincent's Redfern (ABC Religion Report 28/7/04)
Professor criticises Redfern charity withdrawal (CathNews 28/7/04)
Archdiocese of Sydney Charitable Works Fund
Poor Church (ABC Radio National Encounter 25/7/04)
Parish of St Vincent de Paul, Redfern
The Neocatechumenal Way
The Neocatechumenal Way - Australia
Sydney priest still struggling to win congregation's loyalty (CathNews 24/9/03)
Pell acts to resolve Redfern priest crisis (CathNews 21/7/03)

10 Nov 2004