A Sunshine Coast Catholic priest has been accused of undermining church teachings by saying the crucifix should never have become the symbol of Christianity and that Jesus would have been crucified naked.
Father John Dobson, the Sunshine Coast dean and Caloundra priest, made the comments in his column in the Sunshine Coast Sunday newspaper last month.
However he has now come under attack by Sunshine Coast Catholic Advocacy League head and editor of the fundamentalist Catholic newsletter Lepanto, Max Lynch.
Mr Lynch has described the remarks as unbelievable.
He said Father Dobson had overstepped the mark by making comment that was not indicative of Catholic principles and teachings.
“I’m completely bamboozled on why he is taking that attitude,” Mr Lynch said.
“The crucifix has been the symbol of Christianity since it began.”
Father Dobson’s remarks were made in the context of the current debate about sexuality of the clergy, in which he advocated a greater understanding of the power of the Christian message.
He wrote that the fascination of sexuality in a negative form has long been a feature of Christianity and that the crucifix had been rendered unauthentic by this negative sexual mindset.
“Most certainly Jesus would have been crucified naked, as was the Roman practice,” Father Dobson wrote. “At some stage it was decided that Jesus’ sexuality must be covered up, and so he was draped in a loincloth, which somehow would make him more presentable in polite Christian company!
“It is also as if sex had to be removed from this powerful image.”
Father Dobson said the crucifix should never have become the symbol of Christianity because it was a means of execution.
“If Christianity means life it is the resurrection that is our real symbol,” he wrote.
“But maybe the crucifix is the appropriate symbol for such negative, confining thinkers who are terrified to think in a more lateral, open way.
“These people love to debate what other people should or shouldn’t be thinking or doing and whether they belong in the Christian tradition or not.
“Christianity was surely never meant to be a stick to belt someone on the head with, but rather a constant call to a meaningful life with God.”
Describing Father Dobson’s statements as weird, Mr Lynch said copies of Lepanto detailing the controversy had been sent to three senior Vatican cardinals, including Pope John Paul II’s right-hand man, German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Father Dobson said last night that he had received positive feedback about his column, which he had been writing for 12 years, with many people commenting it had helped them understand their faith.
He said while he had demonstrated his loyalty to the church as a priest of 32 years but by contrast Mr Lynch was “very disloyal” and his group was not an accredited organisation within the church.