Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A visionary life

I've just heard that legendary radical priest, Father Paul D Auberon SJ has died.

His loss will be keenly felt by many people in Paulsberg diocese in South Africa, or Azania as he insisted on calling it, though perhaps not so acutely by his bishop, Scott Bellsonit with whom he had had numerous clashes in recent years, chiefly over Auberon's insistence on celebrating Mass in white tie and tails and reshaping the liturgy of the Eucharist to include a tap-dance. In place of the traditional concluding rite, he would invite the congregation to join him in shouting "Amandla!" and punching their fists in the air. His admirers loved his "freestyle Masses", his critics called him a "liturgical vandal".

He will be remembered for his many kind gestures; his offer of administrative assistance to the South African Bishops' Conference was typical of his thoughtfulness, though his enemies didn't miss the opportunity to blame him for the disappearance of an office filing cabinet, which was said to contain documents destined for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

Father Paul was a champion of numerous progressive causes and together with his great friend, Sister Jessica Rabbitte he worked tirelessly to organise his fellow clergy into a trade union. His attempts to affiliate the nascent union with the main South African trade union umbrella organisation were derailed, however, when it emerged that other members included the national chapter of the International Union of Sex Workers. Nonetheless his efforts won him new admirers including in the English diocese of Portsmouth.

At the end of his life he was working on a multi-volume work of political theory, the working title of which was Making it happen: towards a government of workers, peasants and clerics.

He will be sorely missed.


Blogger Patricius said...

It's 1st April...right?

4/01/2010 2:18 AM  
Blogger Crux Fidelis said...

Poisson d'avril

4/01/2010 4:26 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...


4/01/2010 10:23 AM  

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