onsdag 4 mars 2009

Hellre en tom kyrka än en radikal?

Läser om vad som sker i Australien för tillfället (där händer det massor som svenska medier inte rapporterar om). Tar bara upp en sak här och nu...

Den katolska ledningen har stängt en av de kyrkor som lockar flest besökare... För att den är för radikal.

Intressanta paralleller dras i artikeln till Sovjetunionens fall - är det möjligen den katolska hierarkiska strukturens (icke att förväxla med kyrkan som sådan), allt snabbare förfall vi nu bevittnar?

Kommer förnyelsen att stiga som vårblommor ur ruinerna? På sätt som hierarkin inte kan kväva längre...? Eller är nästa steg att sätta ut vakter som hindrar folk från att gå till de kyrkor som tilltalar dem? Som strålar ut det hierarkin misslyckas så fatalt med att förmedla. Som lyser av Jesu radikalitet. Utan hyckleri eller moralism. Men på sätt som välkomnar alla.


"So what was, and is, going on here? Well the answer lies partly in the nature of the St Mary’s community and the faith they are practicing. This is an inner city church that at times fills to overflowing with up to 800 worshippers. The parish priest Peter Kennedy is a classic liberal intellectual who has championed a wide range of good causes - indigenous rights, gay rights, women’s rights and so on. The liturgy also has evolved to include an active role for women including women preaching. They also sing a range of ultra modern hymns and give out communion to all and sundry.

However, it is most important to grasp that what has provoked the Church authorities to close down Fr Kennedy and his church is not Kennedy’s radicalism in itself. For sure they loathe his ideas. Nevertheless it is Fr Kennedy’s success in attracting a congregation that has the Church worried. Quite simply they would prefer an empty church to a radical one.

The Roman Catholic Church is after all the organisation which, while moving to expel Fr Kennedy, has opened its arms to Bishop Williamson of the St Pius X Society. Williamson is an ultra rightist who denies the Holocaust and believes there is a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The subsequent worldwide uproar has meant that Pope Benedict XVI has had to climb smartly out of Williamson’s bed as it were. Nevertheless the entire incident is a reminder that there is a space for Williamson within the Church that Pope Benedict is creating but there is none for Kennedy. This then is a return to the Church that blessed the Fascist Franco, sucked up to the Fascist Mussolini and did deals with the Nazi Hitler.

To grasp the significance of the attack on Kennedy we need to understand that he and his congregation belong to the church of the intellectuals. F Kennedy is actively trying to fashion a faith which will transcend the antinomies of capitalist modernity. He wants to confront capitalist values with ethical norms that have been taken from the Sermon on the Mount - Blessed are the destitute … for they shall see God. In Kennedy’s faith Jesus is the outsider, the revolutionary, who opposes Empire and suffers a horrible death because of that. But for Kennedy Christ’s sacrifice calls on all of us to make a similar commitment in our search for the Kingdom of God on earth.

The church of the intellectuals is of course the church that the clerical core fears the most. This is the church-within which contains the seeds of an alternative to the church of the Curia. Ironically what Kennedy and his community are doing, whether they realise it or not, is struggling to ensure the survival of a church that is dying in front of our very eyes. Only through the ordination of women, the abolition of celibacy and the adaption of a sincere “option for the poor” can the Roman Catholic Church hope to survive. But the Church authorities will consider none of these things.

A suggestive parallel here is the situation in Soviet Russia after Stalin’s death. Reform was critically needed, but there was no one to bring in the reforms. The reformers had all been murdered long ago. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) made something of an effort under Kruschev but then gave up the attempt to reform because that would have meant putting themselves out of business. They were the problem and could never be part of the solution.

Similarly at Vatican 2 the Church of Rome made a half hearted effort at reform and then abandoned it totally under John Paul II. The latter will prove to be the Brezhnev of the Catholic Church. History will show, brilliant showman that John Paul was, his refusal to reform nevertheless prepared the way for the great disaster towards which the church is now inexorably sliding.

So the drama taking place in South Brisbane speaks to the heart of the crisis within the Church. The core church - the clergy - has lost all moral authority. Even worse from their point of view their caste is not renewing itself.

Given the crisis that confronts the clergy it is probably true to say that Bathersby did not want this fight with Kennedy and his flock. But by all accounts he, seemingly not the bravest of men, has been pushed by the far right of the Church. Possibly an Opus Dei cell is at work somewhere in this matter. The head of the Australian Catholic Church, Cardinal Pell, is known to be sympathetic to Opus Dei. He overturned a ban on Opus Dei entering the Sydney diocese and during his recent visit here Pope Benedict stayed with the Opus Dei community. This was a blunt message to the liberals within the Church where Pope Benedict stood. In any case that section of the Church that he represents is determined to get rid of its liberal wing and to impose once more total discipline on the Church of the intellectuals.

What we have then, in the St Mary’s crisis, is a ruthless offensive from the far right. This is of course sheer craziness. Why would one want to shut down one of the few full churches in Brisbane? Instead of embracing the church of the intellectuals as their best and last hope, the clerical heart of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia seems determined to destroy it.


the heteronymous world of domination and exploitation, that the likes of Benedict and Pell and Bathersby will always defend, is a parasitical growth on the human ground state of love and creativity. One has only to recognise and to realise that fact to move on to a world beyond fear, hatred, exploitation and domination.

It is their turn to a theology and practice of creativity and love that is the secret of the success of the St Mary’s community. It is also the secret of why the Far Right seeks to destroy them. It is moreover the reason why we must be there to support them."

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