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Qld: Rebel priest describes his replacement as a religious scab

By Tony Bartlett
18 Feb 2009 7:51 PM

BRISBANE, Feb 18 AAP - A rebel Catholic priest who is facing the sack by the Vatican has described the man sent in by Brisbane's archbishop to replace him as a religious scab.

Father Peter Kennedy, the parish priest at St Mary's in South Brisbane, said he had been given until noon (AEST) Wednesday to resign or be removed.

Fr Kennedy said on Wednesday night there had been no sign of a threatened decree from the Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby announcing his sacking.

He says there's no way he'll resign and he remains determined to conduct Mass at St Mary's on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

"I'll be declared a heretic by Sunday," said Fr Kennedy.

The 71-year-old rebel says the Dean of the area, Father Ken Howell, who has been appointed by Archbishop Bathersby as the new administrator of St Mary's parish, intends to say Mass at 7am on Sunday.

"But I'm not sure who's going to be there because we've never had Mass at 7am on Sunday before," he said.

"I'm a bit afraid a rent-a-crowd like the Burpengary Opus Dei type possibly could turn up.

"I'm hoping they won't come because they could cause conflict, and we don't want conflict.

"I intend to have our liturgy at 9am as normal on Sunday morning and there'll be a thousand people there, I'd say.

"The people are not going to receive Fr Howell. He's naive enough to think he can walk in there on Sunday and the people will welcome him.

"Well, they won't. I know the people, I've been there 28 years - the people want me there and I've helped build that community into what it is today.

"And then this guy comes in, like a religious scab.

"You know, he comes in on the authority of the archbishop who's intent on getting rid of us and .. destroying this community.

"Because destroy it he will, unless we go elsewhere, but I'm prepared to hang in there and to fight to stay there," he said.

Fr Kennedy has come under fire for allowing women to preach and blessing homosexual couples.

Catholic authorities also raised questions about the validity of baptisms at the church.

But many see the parish as having a unique ministry to the poor, indigenous people and the marginalised.