Now, this is not just Anglican madness, the illness has spread to Catholic communities. High time to stop these lunatics.
FATHER Greg Reynolds wants his church of dissident Catholics to welcome all – ”every man and his dog”, one might say, risking the non-inclusive language he deplores – but even he was taken aback when that was put to the test during Mass yesterday.
A first-time visitor arrived late at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra with a large and well-trained German shepherd. When the consecrated bread and wine were passed around, the visitor took some bread and fed it to his dog.
Apart from one stifled gasp, those present showed admirable presence of mind – but the dog was not offered the cup!
Father Reynolds, a Melbourne priest for 32 years, launched Inclusive Catholics earlier this year. He now ministers to up to 40 people at fortnightly services alternating between two inner-suburban Protestant churches.
The congregation includes gay men, former priests, abuse victims and many women who feel disenfranchised, but it is optimistic rather than bitter.
Yesterday a woman, Irene Wilson, led the liturgy and another, Emmy Silvius, preached the homily. Two more passed the bread and wine around.
Father Reynolds – his only clerical adornment a green stole around his neck – played as small a role as he could.
Inclusive Catholics is part of a small but growing trend in the West of disaffiliated Catholics forming their own communities and offering ”illicit” Masses, yet are slightly uncertain of their identities. The question was posed during the service: ”Are we part of the church or are we a breakaway movement?”
Father Reynolds was a thorn in the side of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart when he preached in 2010 that it was God’s will to have women priests. He resigned as Western Port parish priest last August and had his faculties to act as a priest in Melbourne removed.
He is still a priest, though now on the dole. Mary Fenelon, who usually worships in Abbotsford, comes to this Mass because ”these people are forward-thinkers, and the church is going backwards. This is inclusive and welcoming.”
Another member is Michael Kelly, long the public face of the Rainbow Sash movement that sought acceptance for homosexuals in the church. He finds it a step forward to see a Catholic priest prepared to ”break through the intimidation and threats and oppression of a very frightened institution”. ”People have just had it,” he says.
”There’s a sense of hopelessness and despair when you look at the hierarchy, and nothing one says gets through to these guys. They are wrapped up in their own sense of entitlement.
”Intelligent, educated, adult Catholics have had enough.”
But if there’s one thing that unites Inclusive Catholics and the mainstream church, it’s their reliance on hard-working women behind the scenes. The volunteer who made the name tags given out yesterday turned 88 during the week.