More support from Toukley

Back in October last year, our friends in Toukley on the Central Coast of NSW (see Church Mouse Journal) were shocked by a letter from our dear friend and caring pastor, Cardinal George Pell. In due course they replied with the following:

Small Church Community Toukley
Postal address c/o. PO Box 278, BUDGEWOI NSW 2262

27th November 2006

His Eminence
George Cardinal Pell
Polding House
133 Liverpool Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Cardinal Pell,

We have taken some time to assimilate your letter to us of 6th October last.

Our small Church Community was in turn appalled, amazed, angered – despairing to receive such a letter from a Prince of the Church, the highest ranking prelate in this country, the man the secular Press calls the country’s number one Catholic! We are, however, mere followers of Jesus, sad to see unjust situations in our own Church Communities.

Our first thought was that your letter was sheer sarcasm! On second thought, it could perhaps reflect your own frustration and despair at a situation that got out of hand.

You tell us “we have all the answers” – which suggests we should fix the problem! We would dearly love to do this, but sadly, unlike you, we do not have the power to do so, which we respectfully point out you do. We also asked you some questions in our letter which you did not answer.

It is quite evident you are reluctant to personally approach the Redfern Community. Surely then, you can appoint someone with an unbiased view to look further into this unhappy community. It is our observation, that the Neocats are just as unhappy as the general community. We are told – and have seen evidence – that the priests’ teaching reflects strong Jansenistic tendencies, which would render them unsuitable to fit in with any Australian parish purporting to follow Vatican II.

The people of Redfern are fighting to retain their loving community and our observations are THEY WILL NEVER GIVE UP!

Yours in faith and hope
On behalf of Small Church Community Toukley
(Maureen Flanagan)        (Peter Meury)

Copies to:
His Excellency Most Rev. Ambrose de Paoli, Apostolic Nuncio
Most Rev. David Walker, Bishop of Broken Bay
Most Rev. Philip Wilson, President, Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Most Rev. Christopher H. Toohey, Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Service
Rev. Father Peter d’Souza, Parish Priest, Toukley
Redfern Catholic Community

Having received no reply to this letter, they decided to tell a few others about their observations:

Small Church Community Toukley
Postal address c/o. PO Box 278, BUDGEWOI NSW 2262

30th April 2007

His Excellency Most Rev. Ambrose de Paoli, Apostolic Nuncio
Most Rev. David Walker Bishop of Broken Bay
Most Rev. Philip Wilson, President Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Most Rev. Christopher Toohey, Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Service

Copies to Rev. Father Peter d’Souza, Parish Priest Toukley
Redfern Catholic Community

Your Excellency,
Dear Bishops,

The Redfern Situation of Church leadership and Social Justice

Since August last year, our Small Church Community Group of the Catholic Church in Toukley has taken an interest in Social Justice issues, and have been encouraged in our efforts by last year’s Social Justice Statement where the late Father Ted Kennedy’s work amongst the Aborigines was quoted. According to our sources of information, no Aboriginal Chaplain has been appointed in the Archdiocese for the last two years. Why?

There has been an exchange of letters with Cardinal Pell on a number of contentious issues in the Parish of Redfern, our last being dated 27th November 2006. This last letter of ours which remains unanswered, deplores the stance taken by the Archbishop in his earlier reply, and implores him to act on issues, especially the situation with regard to the Neocatechumenal Way Priests and their aggressive actions. Moreover, the Parish appears to treasure a number of meaningful Aboriginal ceremonies and customs, but the present Parish Priest is determined to outlaw these and therefore creates friction within the Community.

Since then, the situation appears to have deteriorated even further as can be seen from the issues published in the Parish Newsletter Church Mouse. When ceremonies at Holy Easter and Christmas are being interrupted by unsavoury incidents, and are becoming fights between celebrants and Parishioners, then it must surely be time for action!

One of the last incidents was the refusal of the Parish Priest to allow distribution of Holy Communion by a distinguished member of the Community, Sister Marnie Kennedy (sister of the late Father Ted Kennedy), who has been a Eucharistic Minister in the Parish for some 25 years. Parishioners were upset at the spectacle created at the altar, and a number of them refused to receive Holy Communion at all! When confronted after the event in the sacristy, Father Prindiville the Parish Priest was very aggressive and stated words to the effect that it is he alone who makes the choices he wants. There was no reason given for the decision. Moreover, a young Parishioner present, was simultaneously and unjustly humiliated and taken to task over her church attendance practices. The Priest obviously lacks pastoral sensitivity and a sense of enculturation.

It is not the first time in Australia that the Eucharist is being used as a weapon to make a point. Such practices must be stopped and show a lack of reverence for the Sacrament and its meaning.

Dear Bishops, please assist the plea of the Parish for a solution of this impossible situation with an Organisation (the Neocatechumenal Way) which is behaving truly un-Australian and the Priests who appear to act contrary to the principles of the Gospel. We hardly need this foreign style of leadership in our country. In this context, may we draw your attention to the recent admonition by Pope Benedict XVI and the Bishops of the Holy Land (www.chiesa.espresso.republica.it issue 6th March 2007). The experience in the Middle East appears similar to the one in Australia!

Yours prayerfully,
On behalf of the Small Church Community Toukley
Maureen Flanagan            Peter Meury

Enclosure: copy of our last letter of 29th November 2006 to George Cardinal Pell

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