“In reality St Mary’s South Brisbane has taken a Roman Catholic parish and established its own brand of religion,” Bathersby wrote.
The church has previously angered conservatives in the church by welcoming gay couples and allowing the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Choir to perform there in June 2003 as part of Brisbane Pride Festival celebrations. Bathersby opposed the performance and said it was “inappropriate”.
However, gay Catholic activist and St Mary’s parishioner, Tony Robertson, told Queensland Pride supporters were rallying to save St Mary’s.
“The response and support from across all social justice networks has been overwhelming,” Robertson said.
“St Mary’s is a church which takes seriously its identity as a Catholic community and practices the teachings of the Catholic Church which call for homosexual persons be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” Robertson said.
“Such acceptance calls for practical action which welcomes gay and lesbian people to the life and worship of the community.
“Those who have concerns about our support for sexual minorities need to remember that the Catholic Church also teaches that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. In this spirit the Church has opened its doors to the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir who use the Church for weekly rehearsals as well as supporting the musical and religious culture at St Mary’s,” he said.
Robertson also noted that other Catholic Churches also welcome sexual minorities, including a northside church that includes the rainbow flag among its public decorations.
“Gay and lesbian Catholics who prefer more traditional worship have always been a presence at the Cathedral of St Stephen where one of the beautiful stain glass windows is dedicated to a gay member of the famous Mayne Family of Brisbane,” he added.
Robertson said the current status of St Mary’s as a Catholic Church had not changed and that the church building and parish house will continue to be a safe place for gay and lesbian people.