A church in Victoria’s north has been stripped of its licence by the Catholic Church after it was found to have been failing to teach the principles of contraception.
The Church of the Resurrection in South Bend, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Melbourne, has been in the red since September and was placed on the state’s “notice of non-compliance” list.
The church has since been given a three-month notice to fix its problem and make changes.
The notice was given after the church failed to show “significant improvement” in its attendance.
The ABC understands the church was forced to pay a $1,000 penalty to the state.
Its pastor, Father Richard Legg, told the ABC he was “shocked and saddened” by the ruling and said he had not been made aware of any other church in Australia having been given such a penalty.
“We were very pleased that the court found the church to be in breach of the regulations and to have given a very strong message of not allowing any church to go through that,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone in this church would want to be doing that and I think it’s a bit sad.”
We were not given a choice.
“The church, which had been operating under the name The Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Melbourne’s west, was ordered to pay $1.5 million ($1.35 million in damages and a $100,000 fine) to the Victorian Catholic Archdiocese of Vic, as well as the Victorian Government.
It has since appealed against the decision and is awaiting a decision from the court.
Last week, the Victorian Court of Appeal ordered the church’s licence to be suspended for three months pending the outcome of its appeal.
The Victorian Government has also been given six months to fix the church.
Victoria’s Catholic Archbishops Conference is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to impose the suspension on the church, and it is expected the Catholic Diocese of Victoria will be among the first to make a decision.