Police involved in subduing recalcitrant parishioners

The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning that the priests in the inner-city Redfern parish have followed advice given to them by auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher and called the police to assist in quelling disruptions to their services.

Although it states that the priests "have called in" the police, the page 3 article does not go into detail about the intervention, except to say that parish priest Fr Gerry Prindiville spoke with Police yesterday. Instead it details news about yesterday's distribution of a letter from Bishop Fisher that attempts to explain the reasons why the Archdiocese is having to resort to the option of police involvement.

Bishop Fisher started by expressing sincere sympathies on the recent death of former parish priest Fr Ted Kennedy, before asking parishioners for their co-operation with the "appointed clergy of the parish during the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass".

He said: "I understand that Masses at St Vincent's have sometimes been disrupted by people doing things without warrant in the liturgical rites and without permission of the clergy".

Recognising "strong views and emotions", Bishop Fisher nevertheless informed the parishioners that he had directed the priests to contact Police to seek their assistance in applying the discipline.

Bishop Fisher told the Herald: "It's a very distressing step to have to take but I wouldn't imagine it's unprecedented".

The current conflict centres on a small wooden table, topped by a red, black and gold wooden cross. Bishop Fisher said he had been told the table had been used as an "additional altar" by disgruntled parishioners who he acknowledged remained profoundly upset over Fr Kennedy's death last month.

"They have been pretending to say Mass at the same time as the priest is saying Mass. It is a very divisive thing to do.

"They have also been calling out loudly through the homily and prayers," he said.

Priests call in police (Sydney Morning Herald 6/6/05 - payment required)
Church Mouse Journal: More morsels from St Vincent's Redfern

6 Jun 2005