An Anglican, a former Archbishop of Dublin, has expressed his support for the formation of a Catholic association of Irish priests.
Some years ago I was walking to the Mater Private Hospital to visit a good friend, Archbishop Joe Cassidy. On the way, I passed a group of teenagers who shouted, “Abused any children lately, Father?”
On reaching the hospital I sat down for a few minutes to compose myself before my visit. I thought of all the fine priests who had to suffer such insults and worse almost every day and wondered if I could have endured it. It is shameful that they should be tarred with the same brush as those who committed such horrendous crimes. I would add my voice to the plea that they “not be left alone at the altar”. They deserve the support and respect of every Christian regardless of denomination.
Meanwhile, at the meeting Empey references,
It was agreed there was a need for such a coherent voice “in light of the increasingly strained relationship between priests and their bishops” and what was described as “the debilitating reality that, without a platform to express their views, priests find themselves unable to represent their own perspective on issues pertinent to priesthood, church and society today”.
Here's the association's draft of organizing principles:
Providing a voice for Irish Catholic priests at a time when that voice is largely silent and needs to be expressed;
Giving an opportunity for Irish priests to engage proactively with the crucial debates taking place in Irish society;
Full implementation of the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council, with special emphasis on:
The primacy of the individual conscience.
The status and active participation of all the baptised.
The task of establishing a Church where all believers will be treated as equal.
A redesigning of ministry in the Church, in order to develop the gifts, wisdom and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.
A re-structuring of the governing system of the Church, basing it on service rather than on power, and encouraging at every level a culture of consultation and transparency, particularly in the appointment of Church leaders.
An equal place for women in all areas of Church life, including the governing systems and the various forms of ministry.
A re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching and practice that recognises the profound mystery of human sexuality and the experience and wisdom of God's people.
Promotion of peace, justice and the protection of God's creation locally, nationally and globally.
Recognition that Church and State are separate and that while the Church must preach the message of the Gospel and try to live it authentically, the State has the task of enacting laws for all its citizens.
Liturgical celebrations that use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all.
Strengthening relationships with our fellow Christians and other faiths.
Full acceptance that the Spirit speaks through all people, including those of faiths other than Christian and those of no religious faith, so that the breath of the Spirit will flow more freely.
How do you think this might play out? Would the biggest participants in this conversation ever allow any other small-time players to nudge their way in?