Dear Brothers and Sisters

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Catholic Community of Redfern,

Following the recent and less recent events in your Parish, we have mailed a letter to Cardinal Pell with copies to our local Bishop, our Parish Priest and yourselves. (see below)

We would like to assure you, that we stand in solidarity with you in your struggle for justice and the Peace of our Lord.

We sincerely hope, that your goodwill evident from your recent expressions in "Church-Mouse" will soon bear fruit.

Prayerfully Yours,
On behalf of Small Church Community Toukley
Peter Meury and Maureen Flanagan

The letter to the Cardinal

Small Church Community Toukley
c/o. PO Box 278, BUDGEWOI NSW 2262
28th August 2006

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

Dear Cardinal Pell,

Social Justice in our Church/The Redfern situation

Our small Church Community Group meets every two weeks to study and reflect on the Sunday gospels, to pray, to meditate, and to discuss topical issues of today, especially Social Justice Matters.

We have been greatly concerned about recent articles in The Weekend Australian (5th August 2006) and SMH (31st. July) in regard to the situation of St. Vincent’s Parish in Redfern. The statements attributed to you, the inability of the Church authorities to resolve this terrible situation since the departure of Father Ted Kennedy, and the actions of the present Parish Clergy as described in the newspaper articles are surely not in accordance with Gospel values. Where is the compassion of Christ? How is social work not part of the Christian ethic? What about the spirit of reconciliation?

Do these people need religion or do they simply need an understanding pastor? You are quoted to have said, that you will go to Redfern and sort out the problem. Why has this not happened so far? It appears that Father Gerry Prindiville is unable to solve difficult issues. The local Deacon seems to be of the same opinion.

Even the Ecclesiastical Regional Tribunal for NSW is now involved in what appears a genuine complaint of defamation (SMH of 25th August).

We stand in solidarity with the struggling people of Redfern and implore you to end these injustices without further delay.

Prayerfully Yours

On behalf of Small Church Community Toukley
(Maureen Flanagan) (Peter Meury)

Copy to Bishop David Walker, Father Peter d’Souza, Toukley
Redfern Catholic Community

The responses

The Redfern community is delighted that someone is prepared to take this matter up and stand with them in solidarity.

But a reply from Cardinal George Pell has raised more questions than it has answered, for Mr Meury.

Mr Meury says that while the Cardinal admits that the situation at Redfern “continues to be painful” and “the challenges presented by the human suffering in Redfern are enormous”, he also writes in terms of “extremists” and “abuse, harassment and provocation … (which) usually does not occur when the media is invited to be present”.  He claims that the Parish Priest who immediately followed the late Fr Ted Kennedy, on Fr Kennedy’s retirement and with his blessing, Fr Peter Carroll MSC, was “driven from the parish by a small group, most of whom were not locals and none of whom were indigenous”.

Mr Meury said: “The Cardinal says that he has repeatedly offered to discuss the situation with those who are discontented – but this is conditional: that the ongoing presence of the priests of the Neo-Catechumenal Way is accepted.  What sort of peace-brokering is that when a condition is applied from the outset?

“The Cardinal concludes his letter by saying that the most precious thing the parish has to offer is the gospel of Jesus Christ – but where is the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of this?”

Mr Meury said he would take the Cardinal’s letter back to the group on whose behalf he had written.

For recent Online Catholics support of the Redfern community, see

Rise up for a Just Church(August 9)
Letters and from the editor (August 16)
Letters (August 30)

You might also like to visit Church Mouse  which “tells the story of the St Vincent's parish in Redfern, an inner city suburb of Sydney: of Fr Ted Kennedy and Mum Shirl; of the community's values, ideals and strength in adversity; and of its amazing journey through the last couple of years” and in particular the Church Mouse Journal.

For a recent response (August 1) from Cardinal Pell, see Situation at Redfern painful

 
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