Readers may have been following the story of Fr Nicholas Rynne on various internet sites, or possibly in the Daily Mail which has covered the story.
Fr Nicholas Rynne is a young Australian priest, ordained in 2013, and appointed earlier this year to be the pastor of Meander Valley Parish in the Hobart Archdiocese in Tasmania. It seems that, even before his arrival in the parish, an unwelcome reception had been planned, but few could have predicted the scale of the row that has developed.
Matters came to public attention when a rather unpleasant letter, written by one Maureen Bennett and addressed to Fr Rynne, was "accidentally" leaked, and subsequently published on numerous websites around the world.
The story is that some outspoken parishioners took exception to Fr Rynne wearing a clerical collar and cassock. They also objected to his introduction of a Latin Mass in the weekly schedule, despite the fact that it was an additional Mass and did not displace any other Mass. A complaint was lodged with Archbishop Julian Porteous, who decided to request the retired bishop, Peter Elliott, to conduct an enquiry. It seems that he did not do this very evenhandedly, as he failed interview Fr Rynne and gave little opportunity for supporters of Fr Rynne in the parish to present their views. The result was that Fr Rynne was suspended, and the following statement issued:
"Fr Nicholas Rynne has ceased his role as administrator of the Meander Valley Parish, and other associated roles in the Archdiocese. We pray that a process of healing and restoration of unity may be achieved in the parish and among all affected."
The matter was taken up first by the local press, then by the national and even international press. Not surprisingly, the story spread around the world on social media. The latest is that an internet petition has been launched in support of Fr Rynne, which gained more than 1000 signatures in the first day.
The petition can be found at: