BEL­MONT’S HOLY WAR

DAVID AND GO­LIATH BAT­TLE AS PARISH PRIEST TAKES CHURCH TO COURT

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOANNA DELALANDE

A LO­CAL Ro­man Catholic priest is tak­ing the Arch­bishop of Perth to court over a dis­pute about the prop­erty on which his church is lo­cated, amid con­cerns ser­vices will have to stop if part of the land is sold.

In a writ filed in WA’s Supreme Court last month, Fa­ther Michael Rowe is seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion or an in­junc­tion pre­vent­ing Arch­bishop Ti­mothy Costel­loe from try­ing to sell the land with­out his con­sent.

The Perth Ro­man Catholic Arch­bishop is the reg­is­tered owner of the land on which the St Anne’s Church in Bel­mont is lo­cated — as well as the pres­bytery, St Anne’s hall, St Anne’s of­fice and St Anne’s garage.

Fr Rowe has been of­fer­ing Mass at the church and paid for ren­o­va­tions — in­clud­ing re­pairs and the in­stal­ment of ameni­ties such as air-con­di­tion­ing, im­proved light­ing and a gas bar­be­cue out­side the church — from St Anne’s col­lec­tions, do­na­tions from the com­mu­nity and from his own pocket.

Last Oc­to­ber Arch­bishop Costel­loe amal­ga­mated the Bel­mont parish with the nearby Red­cliffe and Cloverdale parishes.

The priest of this new parish has re­quested Arch­bishop Costel­loe per­mit the sale of a por­tion of the land — and ac­cord­ing to the writ Arch­bishop Costel­loe has sug­gested he might per­mit this sale.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment of claim, Fr Rowe and the church com­mu­nity would “suf­fer detri­ment” if this were to oc­cur.

Fr Rowe claimed he and the church com­mu­nity paid for re­pairs and ren­o­va­tions based on the as­sump­tion that St Anne’s Com­mu­nity would hold prop­erty.

Fr Rowe claims the sale of even part of the land would make it prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble for ser­vices to be held there on a reg­u­lar ba­sis be­cause of the the loss of toi­lets and park­ing space.

He is seek­ing a dec­la­ra­tion that the Arch­bishop holds le­gal ti­tle to the land upon con­struc­tive trust for Fr Rowe and the St Anne’s Com­mu­nity.

Fail­ing that, he is seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion from the Arch­bishop or an in­junc­tion re­strict­ing him from at­tempt­ing to sell the land with­out Fr Rowe’s con­sent.

In re­sponse to the claims, a church spokesman said: “The Arch­dio­cese of Perth and Fr Michael Rowe, rec­tor of Saint Anne’s Church in Bel­mont, are in on­go­ing dis­cus­sions con­cern­ing the prop­erty on which St Anne’s Church is sit­u­ated.

“It is hoped that a so­lu­tion ac­cept­able to all in­volved in this mat­ter can be found as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Turf war: St Anne’s Church in Bel­mont, Arch­bishop Ti­mothy Costel­loe, be­low, and parish priest Fa­ther Michael Rowe, be­low right.

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