The Church is "a dictatorship not a democracy", Bishop Terence Brady is reported to have told a parishioner from Fairfield in Sydney's west after 800 people signed a petition not to replace a popular parish priest.
Parishioner Peter Murdaca is asking why the petition to keep Our Lady of the Rosary's parish priest was ignored and a different minister appointed, the Fairfield Advance reports.
But a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said the appointment followed proper protocols.
Mr Murdaca told the paper that the parish had been in disarray after the previous parish priest Fr Jason Camilleri left the priesthood last December to get married.
"When Fr Camilleri left the parish it was a very hard time for everyone, we felt dejected and guilty as if we were to blame," he said.
"But when we got Fr Martin Monaghan it was like a ray of hope. Attendance and donations picked up again and he helped to rebuild the parish."
Mr Murdaca said Fr Monaghan was only brought in as a temporary replacement, but many at the parish became convinced he was the man to lead their church.
They felt so strongly that he should have been appointed the parish priest, they started a petition to be sent to Cardinal George Pell.
After two weekends there were 800 signatures supporting Fr Monaghan's appointment.
However Mr Murdaca said instead of Fr Monaghan being appointed he was moved to the Enmore parish and a different priest, Fr Terry Bell, was appointed to Fairfield.
He told the paper that when he asked Bishop Terence John Gerard Brady whose jurisdiction the church falls under why the petition was ignored, he was told the church was "a dictatorship, not a democracy".
"I walked out of the meeting there and then," Mr Murdaca said.
"The church should be about the way Jesus taught us to be, not dictators making decisions for us."
Bishop Brady declined to comment on the issue. Fr Bell said people were entitled to their thoughts about who should be priest.
Fr Bell who was previously national director of Catholic Mission, said he had enjoyed his time in Fairfield so far.
An archdiocesan spokesman said the position was advertised and Fr Bell had the most experience of the applicants.
Mr Murdaca has since resigned from his voluntary positions at the church and is no longer donating money. "I am giving my money to other charities instead. I'm still attending the church but it's in body only," he told the paper.
Hopes dashed (Fairfield Advance, 22/4/08)