Media

Friday, August 31st

Terry Fitzpatrick on 'You Can't Ask That'

By Triple J (ABC)

The renegade priest, who belongs to the St Mary’s in Exile community, appeared on this season of the ABC show to answer any and all questions thrown at him.

For Terry Fitzpatrick, it’s not been long since his last You Can’t Ask That session.

St Mary’s in Exile community, appeared on this season of the ABC show to answer any and all questions thrown at him. And now he’s returned to do it all again live and on radio. (Listen to part of the chat up top or read on for the full Q&A)

I've heard there are only something like two priests in training currently in Australia, are you worried that your religion might be dying in Australia? Ed from Eastwood
"I’ve been trained as a priest and I’m still seen as a leader of a faith community but we left the Catholic institution. Well, we didn’t leave it, they actually kicked us out because we were too progressive. We’re another entity, we call ourselves St Mary’s in Exile because we see ourselves on the edge — not that we want to go back to the church but we see ourselves in solidarity with all those people who find themselves on the edge and find themselves exiled."

Do you believe gay people are going to hell?
"Oh that is ridiculous. The question is just an insult, you know, to both the sacred tradition from which I’ve emerged and for many people who are a part of that. The essence of the teachings of Jesus was love and that’s the key. If we move beyond that into that Old Testament understanding of -- they were rules and regulations that were for a whole different era and it was an image of a God who was retributive and going to pay out on people who were on the edge and people who were different."

A question for the priest. Who pays you ? How does the church make its money? - nathan
"Basically the donations from people in the pews. People turn up and they give and that’s how the church makes its money. And there is investments of money that goes into property and that sort of stuff and over the years buying and selling of property as well. But basically it just comes from the average person who comes to church on a Sunday."

Why are so many priests paedophiles?
"Well, I think someone answered that on the program. It’s not that priests are paedophiles; paedophiles find their way into this institution and because of that whole power imbalance, they find themselves in situations often where they have access to children and in a situation where they’re trusted (or were in the past — I don’t think that’s the case now). And so, it’s not that priests are paedophiles, it’s that paedophiles have found that the whole structure of priesthood allowed them to do what they were doing."

If you are a priest does that mean that you believe everything in the bible or are there things that you take with a grain of salt?
"No. For me, one of the great mistakes that I think Christianity has made in the last couple of hundred years, or even before, is to literalise the scriptures. When the ancients were writing, it’s not that they were writing literally and we were smart enough to interpret them metaphorically: they were writing metaphorically and we were dumb enough to interpret them literally. And I really feel that what’s happened is we’ve literalised all these sacred texts which we were never meant to. They were basically writing in metaphor."

So do you believe that Jesus didn’t turn water into wine?
"Well, no. Again metaphor and the whole -- it’s like when Jesus goes out in the boat in the great storm and he gets out and talks to the storm and calms it down. The metaphor there is: for each of us the stormy waters are difficult times in our lives and what the disciples do is go into the boat when Jesus is asleep and awaken Jesus. Like in our own lives, when crisis’ turn up and there’s stormy waters, we go into the boat and awaken the Christ consciousness which is part of all of us. And when we do that, we move into that present moment, that stillness and experience the calmness that comes from awakening the Christ consciousness."

My wife and I have two children through IVF and the church told us we couldn’t baptise them because science had intervened. When will the church allow IVF children in?
"Again it’s that whole literalising of the gospel and really the power [that the church has] over people. The church has been an institution where abuse [has taken place] and paedophiles found their way into a place where they have power over children. And the whole power the church has exercised in the bedroom and in those places, it’s just unjust and not called for and it was about controlling people’s lives. Religion was often about crowd control, particularly institutional religion, and it got lost in that power. Religion was an instrument of the state to control masses of people, you know, instead of having huge police forces and armies, you have these beliefs that control people and we have this whole reward/punishment system within those religious institutions."

Do you believe that there are any sins that people should die for? Like, something so bad that they can’t be forgiven? Chelsea from the Sunny Coast
"Not really. I mean, these are judgements that we make on one another. Often when we understand where people are coming from, compassion becomes the key and I think the essence of the gospel is about acting compassionately, understanding the bigger pictures and whole gamut of things. Should we be killing other people? I’m definitely not in favour of that."

With so many religions out there what makes you believe that Christianity is the real religion? Karl
"I certainly don’t believe our religion is the only religion [laughs]. There’s just so many cultures, so many variances within and I think there’s great movements that are happening where we’re getting together, we’re trying to listen to one another and understand one another. I think there are many truths and we miss out on the richness of learning from one another when we walk around saying we’ve got it and that we’re the number one. They become businesses trying to out-compete one another, when we should be coming together and saying at the heart of it there’s this consciousness, this oneness, this sense of connectedness to all. Let’s celebrate that connectedness. What do we hold in common here? I think there’s movements where that’s happening more and more. It’s about listening to and learning from one another and valuing richness in diversity."

Watch the full episode here.


Full text and live radio transcript quoted directly from Triple J (ABC )