With the Team once again having hurriedly notified parishioners not to attend the meeting, there were less than a hundred people at the Bowling Club. The organizers were pleasantly surprised when Father arrived because lengthy discussion with him throughout the day had been met with his flat refusal to attend.
As its originator and appointed leader, Father was, of course, accountable for the Team’s behavior and his sudden appearance transformed what promised to be an otherwise uneventful affair into an evening on which the Team’s agenda was put on public display. In this sense, the occasion represented not so much a meeting as the meeting-point. The tumultuous events of nine months had come down to this — a face-to-face confrontation, a show-down if you will, between the ancient and fundamentally flawed principles underlying Reformation II and the precepts of Catholicism itself. The parochial setting of a country bowling club thus belied the universal nature of the contest it hosted as lengthy and broad-ranging dialogue ensued between Father — standard-bearer of a brave new church, and the parishioners — defenders of orthodoxy and the Faith of our Fathers.
The Chairman wasted no time in inviting him to address the meeting and Father immediately responded with this piece of self-congratulations, said with apparent conviction:
I don’t think you’ll find many parishes around the place where parishioners are consulted as much as they are in this parish. You won’t have to have very long memories to know that in most parishes, parishioners were never consulted about anything — they were just imposed upon from a great height.
Astonished by this hypocritical claim, the attentive parishioners sat patiently as Father turned to his prime motivation, stating calmly:
.. I feel obligated as a priest in conscience, to enable people to come to the stage where, liturgically and in every other way, the church is used as I believe the church should be used.
During the next hour and a half this belief became the linchpin of his defense, although intermingled with appeals to conscience were vague references to Roman directives and, in this regard, the theme of the night was compulsion, Father repeatedly insisted that the liturgical requirements of the Church imposed upon him a sacred and inviolable duty, binding in conscience, to remodel St. Joseph’s. That being the case, he might have easily resolved the entire dispute by providing documentary evidence to support his claims. The parishioners had no argument whatsoever with the Church per se. Roman documentation spelling out a mandatory requirement for alterations to their church would have settled the argument in the Team’s favor and been accepted as were the changes effected by Monsignor O’Reilly in 1971.
That no such evidence was produced was totally unremarkable. It simply does not exist, as will be explained in a subsequent chapter by another priest of the Sandhurst diocese who reveals the Team’s selective and erroneous understanding of Roman liturgical documents. Still, the new church is renowned in Catholic circles as a rationalistic rather than a rational lobby and Father relentlessly pursued his false line of argument by insisting that the interior of St. Joseph’s was liturgically incorrect: