11 May 2012 – ‘The Tablet‘
An unprecedented gathering in Dublin of priests and more than 1,000 lay Catholics on Monday demanded far-reaching reforms to the governance and leadership of the Irish Church.
Speakers made repeated calls for the Church’s hierarchy to address issues such as dialogue, structural reform, the high levels of alienation especially among the young and women, as well as the disenchantment caused by Rome’s censuring of priests.
It was held as the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, continued to resist calls for his resignation over the part he played in the church cover-up in the case of a priest who raped children.
The meeting entitled “Towards a National Assembly” was organised by the 900-strong Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and lay groups such as We Are Church Ireland.
It would appear – from the above article in this week’s R.C. newspaper ‘The ‘Tablet’, that Anglicans are not the only ecclesial community with problems – in Ireland and elsewhere. What is perhaps surprising in this instance, is that it reveals a story of protest, by clergy as well as laity, in Ireland – the cradle of Roman Catholicism in the Isles once totally British.
However, since the paedophilia scandals, the Irish Catholic Church has been rather up against it – what with the Vatican response, and the Catholic ground-swell against the restrictions that are still in vogue in that Church; there has for some time now been a feeling – especially amongst the faithful laity, that extant rules about contraception and other matters touching on entrenched attitudes towards Women and Gays, are increasingly trouble-some for younger parishioners – so that it should not be too surprising that there should be signs of dissatisfaction.
There are both priests and laity who believe that the Roman Catholic Church should relax its requirement of a totally celibate priesthood, and not a few who think it time to consider the prospect of ordaining women to the priesthood. Nuns, for instance, are currently required, in some instances, to ‘fill in’ with the para-liturgical administration of the Blessed Sacrament in the absence of a priest.
Such moves would require a great deal of change in the administration and the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. But without it – and with the diminishing numbers of men offering for the priesthood – the protesters claim – there soon may be no-one to keep the Church going.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand