A tolerant habit

18. 33NEWS

A GAY Catholic monk who likes to hang out with rabbis and imams and cherishes his statue of the Hindu god Kali now has his own official order—which he runs from a Homeswest flat in Fremantle.

Brother Francis Mary, otherwise known as Cledwyn Stafford, has had his Lay Companions of St Francis of Assisi approved by the Liberal Catholic Church and he now answers to Bishop James White.

Although small in number, the companions are making a dent locally, running eight volunteer programs including outreach services for prostitutes and gay people.

Brother Francis told the Herald they deliver food and goods to local hostels for men and women, but he stresses most recipients don’t know he’s a fully professed monk, as he usually leaves the brown habit and sandals behind.

The order also provides tutoring and guidance for youth, a get-together every Saturday morning at Mr Finch Noshery on Norfolk Street and a bi-monthly interfaith gathering that’s gathering a widening group of denominations.

“We are apostolic and sacramental in our tradition,” Br Francis told the Herald.

“I had huge awakening at Assisi back in 2000,” he says about his trip to visit St Francis’s tomb.

He says the Franciscans have always been pretty liberal with their acceptance of other religious beliefs and atheists, and the Liberal Catholic Church believes there’s a body of doctrine and mystical experience common to all religions.

The church was formed early last century by two ex-Anglicans (one of whom was consecrated by a bishop with ties to the Roman Catholic Church).


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