An Assembly in the Irish Catholic Church: Any Closer?

imageYesterday about 1,000 people attended an event in Dublin organised by the Association of Catholic Priests, ‘Towards an Assembly in the Irish Catholic Church.’

I was unfortunately unable to attend because of my prior commitment to the Belfast City Marathon (to support my fundraising for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, this year’s official charity of the Belfast City Marathon, click here), but I’ve read reports of the event with interest.

The two headlines in the Irish Times seem to encapsulate it well:

Meeting hears calls for dialogue at all levels in Irish church

Catholic priests have now ‘earned the right’ to speak out

But if dialogue is what we’re after, for me the most disappointing news to come from the meeting was that:

All Ireland’s Catholic bishops were invited but none attended.

Even with that caveat that, ‘Fr Brendan Hoban, of the association’s leadership team, said he received messages from a few bishops and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown wishing them well,’ the bishops’ lack of participation does not seem promising.

So is the Irish Catholic Church any closer to an assembly in which there is real and meaningful engagement among people from all levels of the church?

Could such an assembly move the Irish church closer to fulfilling the vision of co-responsibility in the church, as envisioned by Vatican II, in which so-called ‘levels’ are in a sense levelled and all Christians are recognised as equally necessary members of the body of Christ?

It will take more than well wishes to realise that kind of church.

The Association of Catholic Priests promises to post texts of the talks on their website soon.

(Image: logo of the Association of Catholic Priests)

One thought on “An Assembly in the Irish Catholic Church: Any Closer?”

  1. The ACP are acting beyond their authority. They have no power to call an assembly of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Additionally, their radical, liberal agenda is not one that could be supported by any Catholic bishop. The ACP want women priests. The Magisterium has definitively stated that this is not possible. The ACP want the acceptance of homosexual behaviour. The constant teaching of the Church is that homosexual behaviour is immoral.

    At the ACP meeting, there was a lot of anger, but was there any mention of the need for saints in the Church, or any realisation that only through a spiritual renewal of holiness, will there be any renewal of the Church. No renewal will come through dissent from the Church teachings.

    Gladys, what is the point of dialoguing about matters which are not open for discussion, such as homosexuality, or women priests? DIalogue for dialogue’s sake? That’s cruel since it raises unrealistic expectations.

    Ever since the close of the Second Vatican Council, there has been war inside the Church. For a long while it seemed that the liberals/modernists were winning, but the Holy Spirit has ensured that the gates of hell have not prevailed. Pope Benedict spoke about the divisions in the Church in his Christmas 2005 address to the Roman Curia:

    ”The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

    Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

    On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

    The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

    These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

    In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.”


    This is all very interesting, and in this address by the Holy Father, we see clearly the way forward for the Church. It is unfortunate that the ACP and their supporters are firmly in the Rupture camp, which is slowly dying out as its members age. What we are now hearing is the desperate buzzing of dying bees.

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