SYDNEY (AFP) – A rebel Catholic priest in Australia, who was sacked for blessing gay couples and allowing women to preach, defied his archbishop and led mass on Sunday, media reports said.
Father Peter Kennedy preached in front of hundreds of parishioners gathered to show support after his dismissal last week, national news agency AAP reported.
The Catholic church said Kennedy's nominated replacement did not attend Sunday service in Brisbane on police advice following a bomb threat against Archbishop John Bathersby, who sacked the 71-year-old Kennedy.
Kennedy does not dispute breaching church rules but argues his actions are in line with the Vatican's call for people to take full and active participation in the liturgy.
"It's sad the archbishop is not here because if he was, he could not turn away from this community," Kennedy told the congregation, denying that any of his followers were behind the bomb threat.
He told AFP last week he had blessed about 10 gay and lesbian unions during his time at St Mary's parish and welcomed women preachers, describing the Catholic Church as "the biggest boy's club in the world."
The congregation reportedly chanted "we shall not be moved" at the end of the service, with parishioner Allaway Allan telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he was not surprised by the show of support.
"This just demonstrates what a damn good job Father Peter Kennedy is doing," Allan said.
Archbishop Bathersby said an independent mediator would most likely be called to solve the impasse.
"The Church is fully entitled to have this decree obeyed and to have its ownership of the St Mary's church respected," he said Saturday.