After taking up one the world’s strongest establishments, Peter Kennedy has spent greater than a decade dwelling “in exile”.

However that is precisely the place the 83-year-old desires to be.

Mr Kennedy was a well known Brisbane Catholic priest, however after difficult church orthodoxy and practising his personal controversial model of Catholicism, was dismissed in 2009.

He says he has now moved distant from the Catholic Church.

Mr Kennedy is a part of a small group of Australians who’ve been solid out of their religions.

For some, it is a badge of honour after an extended struggle. For others, it may be a deeply traumatising occasion.

“It was not straightforward … however I’ve no regrets in any respect,” Mr Kennedy says.  

“I am very glad for this journey.”

From Catholicism to ‘discovering your personal fact’

For years, Mr Kennedy made headlines for deviating from Roman Catholic practices at St Mary’s church in South Brisbane, together with permitting girls to evangelise and blessing LGBTQIA+ {couples}.

After repeated warnings and makes an attempt at conciliation, church authorities eliminated Mr Kennedy from workplace, so he and his flock arrange a separate religion entity referred to as St Mary’s in Exile.

A woman delivers a homily in a church while a priest in his 70s stands behind her.
Peter Kennedy prays whereas listening to a homily, earlier than leaving St Mary’s Catholic Church in South Brisbane.(

ABC Information: Giulio Saggin


Described as “a pop-up church”, St Mary’s in Exile meets each weekend within the Queensland Trades and Labour Council Constructing, and is way extra progressive than its Catholic namesake.

“We mentioned we can’t go down that poisonous, patriarchal path … We modified the sexist language, we have had girls main and co-leading liturgy,” explains Mr Kennedy’s co-agitator, Terry Fitzpatrick.

Mr Fitzpatrick was an affiliate priest at St Mary’s who stood by Mr Kennedy, so was additionally eliminated by the Catholic Church and is now with St Mary’s in Exile.

“[The Catholic Church] simply would not appear to be wanting in direction of the long run,” he says.

Church-goers at St Mary's in Exile church stand in a circle with a rainbow flag in the background.
The congregation of St Mary’s in Exile worships on the second flooring of a commerce union constructing.(

ABC Information: David Sciasci


For these former Catholic monks, the scriptures have been “by no means meant to be taken actually”. As an alternative, it is all about exploring the metaphorical messages and “discovering your personal fact”.

Mr Kennedy says in his later years, he is been drawn to “the mystics and mysticism” and its concentrate on individualism and contemplation.

The identical goes for Mr Fitzpatrick, who says he follows “mysticism and the gnostic Christians, the non-literalist Christians that have been persecuted by the literalist Christians within the early church system”.

However whereas Mr Kennedy and Mr Fitzpatrick had a whole neighborhood assist them as they left their faith and began on a brand new path, different Australians undergo this in a a lot lonelier manner.

For some, the method can result in years – or perhaps a lifetime – of battle.

Dropping household and associates

When Paul Grundy was expelled from his church, he misplaced much more than only a place to worship.

Mr Grundy was introduced up in a household of religious Jehovah’s Witnesses, in what he describes as an especially insular spiritual world.

A 1970s photo of a young boy in a garden, dressed in a shirt, tie and shorts.
Paul Grundy at age 5, dressed up for preaching.(

Provided: Paul Grundy


However later in life, he got here to the conclusion that the faith was “simply not telling the reality”, so he created an nameless web site that strongly criticised Jehovah’s Witness teachings.

The church found out that Mr Grundy was behind the web site and expelled him – a course of identified within the faith as “disfellowshipping”.

And within the Jehovah’s Witness religion, a disfellowed member will be “shunned,” or as Mr Grundy describes it, “folks reduce you off from their lives, nearly fully”.

“I misplaced most of my household and my associates. I went into mourning over that, figuring out that was the tip of my relationship with my mom and father and sister. It was nearly like they died … I fell into an actual state of melancholy.”

A middle-aged man in a red t-shirt sits in a cafe with a floral feature on the wall.
Paul Grundy spent many years with the Jehovah’s Witnesses earlier than being “disfellowshipped”.(

Provided: Paul Grundy


Psychological well being specialists say that shunning and related excessive practices can have a major impact on folks.

“You may even see PTSD, or low self-worth, even a lack of identification and a lack of self,” says Nicola Stevens, a registered counsellor who has researched spiritual trauma.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t reply to questions from the ABC concerning the results of disfellowshipping and shunning.

However Mr Grundy says in the long run, he “positively made the best selection” and is “very glad” with the place he’s now.

“In the present day I am ‘ignostic’ … I feel the entire dialogue of whether or not there is a God or not is totally meaningless, as a result of God would not reveal himself, nobody is aware of who he’s.”

An historic observe

Strategies of quickly or completely excluding followers who break the foundations are as previous as religions themselves, based on specialists.

Andrew Singleton, a professor of sociology and social analysis at Deakin College, says “it goes all the way in which again to when people invented faith”.

“The second factor they invented was heresy. And the third factor they invented was being eliminated for heresy,” he says.

“[The Catholic Church] permits flexibility, however in some unspecified time in the future, when you’re talking out in a manner that is clearly towards the doctrine, they are going to at that time clamp down.”

For the Catholics, these penalties vary from being “faraway from clerical workplace” — like within the case of Mr Kennedy and Mr Fitzpatrick — to excommunication.

The interior of a grand cathedral, with light coming in from the main window.
The Code of Canon Regulation is the authorized construction that governs Catholic Church issues.(

Getty Photographs: DEA / M. CAFFO


Professor Singleton says religions with higher “hierarchy, authority and historical past” usually tend to eject folks for standing as much as them, however “charismatic religions” are far much less doubtless to take action.

“Charismatic religions are ones the place anybody has the authority to listen to from the spirits or gods. So it is not clear reduce what constitutes heresy.”

Professor Michele Riondino is the director of the Canon Regulation Centre on the Australian Catholic College.

He says for the Catholic Church, the authorized construction and penalties specified by the Code of Canon Regulation are to make sure “order” and “the nice of the neighborhood”.

Professor Riondino says lately, most clerical dismissals within the Catholic Church have been on account of sex-abuse crimes, reasonably than people standing as much as church authority.

“All of the sanctions within the church’s Code of Canon Regulation, they’ve three functions … To revive justice, reform the offender and restore the scandal,” he says.

Professor Riondino says some penalties are “expiatory” whereas others are “medicinal”, that are meant “to assist the individual perceive the grave and the deep break between them and the church and to assist them to be a part of it once more”.

“The imposition or declaration of every type of penalty … is without doubt one of the most vital expressions of the church’s energy and for that reason, each type of penalty is exercised with nice care, and with pastoral consideration.”

However whereas being pushed away from a faith can carry an unlimited emotional toll, some Australians are lucky to have had a way more constructive expertise.

‘Simply benefit from the experience’

Sue-Ann Put up talks about her excommunication from the Mormon church in an nearly joyous manner.

However that is to be anticipated from somebody who has described herself as “Australia’s favorite six-foot, lesbian, ex-Mormon, diabetic, comic and author”.

Within the late Nineteen Eighties, Ms Put up began drawing on her Mormon upbringing for comedy materials. Fifteen years on, church authorities finally had sufficient and formally excommunicated her. 

A woman with short hair and glasses sits in front of a black background.
Sue-Ann Put up was excommunicated from the Mormon church. However for her, this was a badge of honour.(

Provided: Sue-Ann Put up


Ms Put up was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the official identify of the Mormon church) however started drifting away from the religion in her teenagers.

“I in all probability can be a messed-up Mormon housewife if I hadn’t gone to college and at age 18 realised that lesbians existed and went ‘oh my God that explains all the pieces’,” she says.

“There have been two years of battling that, praying and fasting and asking God to not make me homosexual till I lastly accepted [my sexuality] … Then I believed, in the event that they’re incorrect about that, what else are they incorrect about? And I labored my manner out with logic and a little bit of anger.”

Materials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says, “the expertise of same-sex attraction is a fancy actuality for many individuals. The attraction itself isn’t a sin, however appearing on it’s”.

Ms Put up says for her, life is “all only one large journey”.

And the ex-Mormon comic has a chunk of recommendation for individuals who undergo an analogous expertise to hers.

“It was a fully scary however fantastic liberation … In the event you get expelled from a religion, simply benefit from the experience.”

Put up-traumatic progress

Counsellor Nicola Stevens additionally says there will be positives, irrespective of how traumatic the break up is.

“Persons are fairly unbelievable and I feel even once they have been via traumatic experiences, there’s a factor that we name ‘post-traumatic progress’,” Ms Stevens says.

“Individuals can expertise progress and make some sense after what has occurred, and discover a option to settle for that it is occurred.

“With resilience and power … folks can discover methods to create a life worthwhile and significant for them, even after an occasion like this.”

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