The establishment hates him, but the parishioners back him enthusiastically. The row over the unorthodox ways of a Catholic priest of Queensland is hogging the headlines in Australia.
Father Peter Kennedy has been sacked for being "out of communion" with the Catholic church. His 'sins' include - blessing gay relationships, not wearing priestly vestments and allowing women to preach from the pulpit.
AdvertisementClearly the hierarchy would have none of it. Bu his South Brisbane flock are backing him to the hilt.
Late last week an administrator, Father Ken Howell, was appointed to take over from Father Kennedy, but there is such stiff resistance, he is not able to assume office.
Now a former High Court judge, Ian Callinan, has been hired as a mediator but there are signs that the mediation is set to fail before it's even started, ABC Radio reports.
Peter Kennedy defended himself, saying, "We are equally passionate about our liturgy and all I can say is by your fruits you will know them. Because of our situation all these homeless people are around us. About eight of them, nine of them came up to me and said, 'Good on ya Peter (laughs), you're doing a great job. We're with you and God will work it out for you'. When they support you, I mean you know you're on the right track."
But Father Adrian Farrelly, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, seemed to hope that mediation by Ian Callinan could work where other tactics have failed.
James Kelly of the ABC sounded skeptical. He asked the chancellor how realistic his hopes were. The latter would only say, "That's my hope and I know the hope of the archbishop."
ABC reported, "But all indications from Father Kennedy point to the mediation process not getting off the ground. He's told the ABC he'll mediate if it's about the behaviour of the Archbishop John Bathersby in the sacking process, but not if it's about replacing him with another man of the cloth."
At one stage church spokesman Father Adrian Farrelly got so upset that he burst out saying that Father Kennedy was on record saying that he was embarrassed to be a Catholic and that if he had his choice now he wouldn't be a priest.
He was thus implying that Father Kennedy had no business to be there anymore. But the rebel priest is digging in. Slamming the high-handed approach of the authorities, he has vowed, "....We will not hand over the keys to the dean and we will be there again next Sunday."